Nesbitt urges Foster to consider her position

After last nights Spotlight programme the UUP leader, Mike Nesbitt has urged the First Minister, Arlene Foster to consider her position over the Heat Incentive Scheme.

In his statement Nesbitt says;

“The mismanagement of the Renewable Heat Incentive and consequent squandering of hundreds of millions of pounds is another scandal, up there with NAMA and the Social Investment Fund.

“This happened on Arlene Foster’s watch in the then Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. To date, her only defence is that she cannot be across ‘every jot and tittle’ of her Department’s operations, but this is no jot or tittle.

“This is the biggest financial foul-up in the history of the country. We will be paying for this for the next twenty years so there are children not yet born who will become Mothers and Fathers before this debt is paid off.

“What is now in the public domain proves hundreds of millions of pounds were wasted needlessly, the Department was dysfunctional, unaware of the rules, and hapless in seeking solutions.

“This is a scandal prone Executive and on this occasion, it comes to a fundamental tenet of democratic government called Ministerial Accountability. If Arlene Foster believes in it, she must consider her position.”


When Arlene spoke with John Manley from the Irish News she denied any responsibility for the botched RHI scheme;

Speaking to The Irish News, Mrs Foster said she was not accepting any responsibility for the scheme’s shortcomings because “it was developed by officials in a way that shouldn’t have been developed by officials”.

When it was highlighted that they were her officials in her department, the DUP leader said: “I hope you’re not suggesting I get to see every single jot and tittle that goes on in every ministerial department.

“Ministers do not get to see that level of detail as you well know. We get to see the overall policy in terms of those renewable schemes.”


But then “detail is important”

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  • ted hagan

    Excellent, and real, journalism from the Spotlight team and the follow-up by Nolan this morning. It beats the acres of airtime and newspapers filled with ‘commentators’. It’s no wonder the DUP hates the BBC.
    As for Arlene Foster. If someone knocked on my door and told me that a letter I had signed meant someone was taking 200 pounds out of bank account every month, I would do a lot more than ‘pass on the message’. I would be onto the bank immediatelty to demand answers… no matter how busy I was. This is a scandal and Foster doesn’t even offer an apology, the sign of a very poor leader.

  • Zorin001

    The buck stops here…..

    except when it doesn’t apparently.

  • Korhomme

    Things were different in the past. The Minister responsible for the Department resigned in the Crichel Down affair:

  • file

    Why can the contracts for this scheme not be rescinded? Why does every report I hear say that the money has to continue to be paid out?

  • billypilgrim1

    The thing she always had going for her was her reputation as a very capable minister. Looks like that’s gone now.

    Her handling of this so far has been quite astonishing. The petulance of her tone is alarming in any political leader, and remarkable for the lack of political nous it betrays. (Her response to Brexit was similarly Students’ Union level.)

    It’s getting harder not to conclude that Arlene has been promoted beyond her abilities. She’s just not ready for senior hurling after all.

    And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’ll be Arlene’s arrogance that will be her undoing.

  • Redstar

    Don’t worry her (very) junior partners will back her up.

    When it comes to outrageous (criminal?)incompetence in this issue, grand theft with Nama, slush funds with millions going to street thugs with SIF-any other administration in a normal society would be scrapped.

    But here for the egos and personal gain of MMG Foster and the other career politicos making a very good living, we are all just supposed to ignore what’s happening

    Is it any wonder less and less vote

  • WindowLean

    Foster’s weakness (like her predecessor) is her temper (why are DUPers permanently angry??). You can just tell by her tone that she’s straining at the leash to tell these uppity journalists to eff-off and go to the shop to get some milk.

    I didn’t hear Nolan this morning but a key question is why did the officials raise the tariff to a level where essentially, the grant paid out was higher than the cost of the fuel?

  • Redstar

    No one should hold their breath waiting for the Shinners to support the call for her to go. Partners in crime

  • Katyusha

    Well, don’t hold your breath waiting on her to accept or take responsibility.

    Northern Ireland, where even the most incompetent of governments can weather any scandal.

  • file

    billypilgrim – are any of our politicians really senior hurling standard?

  • billypilgrim1

    Mediocrity is the nature of the body politic in a totally sclerotic state. None of our politicians are senior hurling standard, because our politics is not senior hurling.

    Even a proven senior hurler like Martin McGuinness is visibly diminishing in the context of the shitshow on the hill – the existence of which, let us not forget, is the high watermark in the political history of “Northern Ireland” (sic).

    But there are plenty of individuals who I believe could thrive as part of a different, more serious body politic. Of the top of my head, people like Simon Hamilton, Mark Durkan Snr, Michelle Gildernew, John O’Dowd, Conor Murphy, Patsy McGlone, Danny Kennedy, Naomi Long, Steven Agnew, Steve Aiken could all make a meaningful contribution in Dáil Éireann. Jim Allister too, in his own inimitable way. I would add Mike Nesbitt and (more tentatively) Colum Eastwood to that number. Maybe even Arlene too.

  • billypilgrim1

    From a strategic point of view, if the leadership of political unionism is descending into sleaze and corruption, this is good news for nationalism.

    You shouldn’t underestimate the damage stuff like this will do to unionist morale. Robinson was unseated over expenses. It’s the DUP’s natural voters who will administer the punishment for this, not SF.

  • billypilgrim1

    (why are DUPers permanently angry??).

    Their temperament is a big part of why they’re in the DUP in the first place.

  • Redstar

    I won’t hold my breath on SF calling for Arlene to resign. Every sleazy scandal that comes up SF and Dup cover each other’s backs. Ones as bad as the other

  • Brian O’Neill

    Jim Allister in Dáil Éireann is the stuff of dreams…

  • billypilgrim1

    “I won’t hold my breath on SF calling for Arlene to resign.”

    Nor should they.

  • billypilgrim1


  • Redstar

    Of course not, they cover each other’s backs over slush funds corruption and possible criminality to cling on to power

  • eamoncorbett


  • file

    Fair enough list Billy, but let me change the question slightly. Say we are talking about senior inter-county hurling? In that case only Mark Durkan makes it onto the starting 15 in my view. Jim Allister’s has not enough variety to his game (in hurling terms, he can strike off only one side), and would be too easily closed down by an inter-county standard defender. Good for five minutes near the end of tight match, maybe?

  • billypilgrim1

    Ah no, Jim is an old-school corner back if ever I saw one. The political equivalent of Sylvie Linnane.

  • AntrimGael

    The DUP and Shinners have a force field of arrogant, dismissive entitlement around them that is simply impenetrable. They do what they want and like Louis XIV and Charles I, they believe they have the inherited right of monarchy where anyone who questions anything they do is committing treason. Of course Arlene will walk away from this without any recourse. The only ones who can challenge her position are Sinn Fein and they have as much chance of forcing her to quit as the 2017 Belfast Twelfth of July parade has of starting in Ballymurphy.
    Look at the Nelson McCausland RED SKY/Glazing fiasco. He was totally filleted by BBC Spotlight and a fellow committee of MLA’s and in any other jurisdiction not only would he have been forced out of office but the police and public prosecutors would have been called in. What happened here? He was moved to chair a Stormont Committee which scrutinised the behaviour and standards in office of other MLA’s???
    Wednesday’s Irish News front page reported on another ‘community’ group with a former convicted UVF murderer at the head receiving 100’s of 1000’s of pounds of public money while the Shinner’s get 100’s of 1000’s for community ‘research’ groups which don’t do any research. When are people going to wake up and stop voting for these two main eejit parties who not fit for purpose and are only interested in feathering their own, and senior Republican/UDA/UVF nests?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    A mate of mine from down south wants a UI so that the Dail might be populated with northern Jim Allisters.

    He thinks it’s just what Ireland needs.

  • billypilgrim1

    I see where he’s coming from. There’s a big gap in the market for an unapologetic social conservative who is intelligent, articulate, principled and not corrupt. Jim ticks all those boxes.

    And it’s a bit of a stereotype but the Ulster Prod still has a reputation for probity, which is one of the traditional weaknesses of the Irish body politic.

  • babyface finlayson

    Is this Mike Nesbitt promoting the old boiler replacement scheme?

  • billypilgrim1

    This is a point worth reinforcing, on the day of T.K. Whitaker’s hundredth birthday. A civil servant from Co. Down, son of a proud Ulster Protestant, and voted Irishman of the Century in 2002.

  • ted hagan

    Wood pellets scandal, 400 million pound bill, Protestant reputation for probity? Hmmm, doesn’t quite add up.

  • ted hagan

    You agree a legal contact. Renege on that contract and you face being sued with legal bills and compensation running into even more squillions.
    Simple really.

  • file

    But do you think the scammers (the ones who benefitted from the scheme) would be shame-faced enough to turn up in court looking for even more free money? Let’s publish their names first, then stop paying them and see if they have the brass neck to sue.

  • Katyusha

    He’s quite correct. But he might be a little disappointed when he finds there’s only one northern Jim Allister.

  • DOUG

    Yep, Jim’s.

  • Nevin

    “But then “detail is important””

    I have seen/heard little detail about the nature of governance here, either on the BBC (Spotlight and Nolan) or on Slugger. Perhaps the Treasury should query why its recommended best practice isn’t being followed.

  • Simian Droog

    She might not see the “jots” but I’d definitely be on the lookout for rogue “tittles”.

    Seems you can take the girl out of the Victorian era but….

  • J Kelly

    The question is who are the people who got the grants and are creaming off the loot, any personal, political, religious or cultural links to the DUP. Did anyone wire off people that this was a good thing to get in on. i think Jim Allister knows more than he’s saying at this stage but keeps asking the right questions.

  • Tochais Siorai

    It’s a pity that jot n tittle Arlene doesn’t have it.

  • Theelk11

    In the 10 weeks notice after the scheme was to be closed the applications grew nearly exponentially.

    Why did it take 10 weeks to close the scheme after it was agreed to be flawed?

    Did anyone benefit from the above and if so who ?

    It’s the hope that gets you in the end….

  • Backbencher

    In fairness to the First Minister, I am not so sure that anymore would have been expected of her. She received a report on an issue and she asked her officials to investigate. Ministers probably get lots of reports/complaints about how things are being done, once examined most would turnout to be unfounded.

  • AntrimGael

    Stephen Nolan hinting very strongly that his team are sitting on some very revealing stuff about this and they will reveal it in due course. He wouldn’t have said this without having something concrete. When pushed by Mark Carruthers to reveal the names of those who were involved Simon Hamilton conveniently wheeled out the Data Protection Act. It really does seem that this entire fiasco has another Red Sky and NAMA whiff about it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Be careful what you ask for…….” as my late mother in law used to say…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Well, they work well as cat litter.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I remember once reading a delightful analysis of just how a person showing skill and competence in small things may be placed in a position where these evident abilities are simply drowned by much more complex demands. Norman Dixon, in his “On the Psychology of Military Incompetence” described just how poor Sir Redvers Buller was enthusiastically dropped in the deep end at the start of the Boer War and chalked up defeat on defeat from the wily Boers irregulars before Bobs appeared on the scene with Kitchener in tow and hit on the policy of penning the Boer population in concentration camps, something a “beau sabeurer” like Redvers would perhaps never have contemplated. Buller was himself Liberal Unionist politically, and his noted pugnacious rigidity, evident in every image taken of him, has long suggested Arlene’s own projected image to me.