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Sugden Welcomes RHI Public Inquiry – but says she could not have instigated it

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Justice Minister Claire Sugden MLA
Justice Minister Claire Sugden MLA

Justice Minister Claire Sugden MLA has welcomed the announcement of a Public Inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.  “In common with everyone else in Northern Ireland I am appalled that such a deeply flawed scheme, that could potentially cost hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, was ever introduced. From the outset,  I have supported an inquiry into RHI, to get to the truth of what happened and I welcome the news that the Finance Minister is now going to do that.”

 Over the past weeks there have been calls for me, as Justice Minister, to instigate a public inquiry. The Justice Department had no role whatsoever in the setting up or running of the RHI scheme and as such it falls outside of my remit as Justice Minister. The 2005 Inquiries Act states that any Minister can establish an enquiry, but legal advice provided to me indicated that had I done so, there was a very strong chance of a range of legal challenges that would have added to the cost, delayed further getting to the truth and may even have undermined the integrity of the Inquiry itself. 

 The Department of Finance has primary responsibility to protect public funds and therefore it is entirely right that the inquiry into RHI is instigated by that Minister.”

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