Arlene’s Ash for Cash Scandal: DUP’s Hell as RHI Fire exposes Brimstone

Guess who’s back in the news?

Stephen Brimstone, for long a prominent DUP Special Advisor (SpAd) at Stormont, has been revealed to be a beneficiary of the RHI scheme.

Brimstone, very recently retired from his post as Arlene Foster’s SpAd, had previously served as SpAd for DUP Social Development Ministers Nelson McCausland and Mervyn Storey, before being promoted to work in the OFMDFM for Peter Robinson in May 2015.

Mr Brimstone has a track record when it comes to making waves at Stormont, as this Belfast Telegraph report reminds us:

Mr Brimstone was the Spad accused in a BBC Panorama investigation of telling Lisburn councillor Mrs Palmer, a DUP representative on the HE board, to change her vote in relation to the Red Sky contract.

In a phone call he was alleged to have told her: “The party comes first- you do what you are told.”

The committee said Mr Brimstone failed to provide complete accounts of meetings, and was “deliberately evasive in his answers to the point of obstructing the committee in carrying out its statutory function”.

It said he did not give MLAs “the information and assistance which (we) expected”, while the evidence of Mrs Palmer, a DUP councillor, was “compelling, consistent and convincing”.

The committee therefore said it accepted Mrs Palmer’s account of the phone call and concluded that Mr Brimstone was “inappropriately attempting to influence the board’s discussions on behalf on the minister”.

Brimstone survived the Red Sky affair, and stayed on as a SpAd in the Executive Office, working with Arlene Foster, after the 2016 Assembly elections.

TUV Leader, Jim Allister, is left to raise one of the many central questions needing answered at this time:

“Having had it confirmed that while a DUP special adviser Stephen Brimstone was also a beneficiary of the lucrative Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, I feel entitled to ask if he was the only DUP and government insider seeking to take advantage of the scheme? It is not suggested such would be unlawful, but, nonetheless, if insiders were seeking to avail of the scheme, before it was capped, it adds a new dimension. Given the public dismay over the handling of this scheme it is now very much in the public interest that all beneficiaries are identified. The public money paid to individual local farmers and lawyers is published every year, so there is no sustainable basis upon which this RHI information is being withheld. Political embarrassment is not an adequate reason. Has the DUP got something to hide?”

SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood, appropriately raised the issue of the identity of the spike applicants on Talkback today:

We need to know who benefited particularly around that 3 month period when there was a spike in applications… Who benefited, how close are they to politicians, who told them to pile into that scheme before it closed down.





  • Declan Doyle

    Sorry can all of you please do me a favour and stop putting that ‘indeed’ word at the end of your posts, its really irritating.

  • mickfealty

    It’s Baker’s fault. He started it! 😉

  • Indeed.

  • Sorry – couldn’t help it!

  • “DUP’s Hell as RHI Fire exposes Brimstone” could be in the running for headline of the year …

  • murdockp

    Every time you look under the bonnet of a Stormont department, none are even close to fitness for purpose.

    Healthcare; Un-modernised department with too many inefficient hospitals which no politician has the balls to modernise.Unfit for purpose.

    Transport, Translink and Roads, both rail and buses and roads service; not fit for purpose.

    Water; not fit for purpose

    Housing; Housing Executive; Not fit for purpose.

    Planning; not fit for purpose

    Councils; not fit for purpose.

    Invest NI; Not fit for purpose

    and on, and on and on….

    At some point some one has to accept that Stormont needs to be scrapped and started again.

  • Blade Sprinter

    Scrap Stormont AND Northern Ireland.

    Neither are any use to anyone.

  • Gopher

    You forgot education. I think it is now widely accepted Stormont is a failure.

  • Chris

    Participation in a scheme to encourage people to switch to renewable energy for their heating is not, in itself, an indication of any wrong doing.

    The only reason you know that Brimstone applied is because Arlene Foster revealed it.

    And Arlene Foster would not have revealed his name without his consent.

    So what, exactly, do you have?

  • Strictly speaking, I nicked it from Instapundit.

  • And, I believe, he may have nicked it from Stargate SG1.

    [Sheldon! – Ed]

  • Declan Doyle

    I will donate if everybody agrees to stop 😉

  • Declan Doyle

    Feck off !! 😉

  • Gaz

    Anyone up for a protest at City Hall Wednesday 14th December at 1pm?

  • Gopher

    Participation in a scheme that a 7 year old could figure out. Ill give you money if you stop buying sweets with your pocket money and buy carrots instead. Il give you more money for every carrot you eat, not that I will police how many carrots you actually eat just how many carrots you tell me you will eat and I will not police how you spend the money I give you and I will certainly not notice when you become richer than your parents.

    It looks to all intents and purposes like fraud. The correct questions are not being asked

    1/ If this was a private enterpise it would now be bankrupt and nobody would get any payments. Why is there no firewall in Stormont to prevent serious incompetence and fraud. How can a budget be open ended? This is were Arlene should be toast, any Minister who is not aware of their department’s spend is not fit for purpose. In the absence of those mechanisms, they are meant to be the firewall.

    2/ Can ALL these payments be stopped, if not why is there no departmental mechanism to protect the taxpayer from obvious accounting errors or wilful fraud.

    3/ How many civil servants are facing disciplinary action and what steps are being taken to terminate their pensions in lieu of the money they have already cost us. Can action be taken against civil servants if the answer is negative why not?

    4/ What qualifications did these civil servants have in the field of business. Not what exams they have or pretend to have , what actually qualifies them to spend our money. A full list of of career path needs to be published.

    5/ What criminal proceeding have been initiated, how many emails, mobile and phone records have been siezed how many bank details have been inspected?

  • billypilgrim1

    “Northern Ireland” is a failure.

    It needs to end.

  • grumpy oul man

    Leave the Jaffa out of this,

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Make sure you also add that wee DUP Conference Jig “Arlene’s On Fire !”

  • Surveyor

    Gosh Pete that’s very understanding of you. Would the same apply if it was a Sinn Fein minister caught up in all this?

  • Granni Trixie

    Could be …but isn’t the more significant thing about The post that it is one of many responses which try to deflect attention from placing responsibility from where it primarily belongs namely Arlene.

  • Granni Trixie

    I wager that she might not have revealed it either if she thought people (Nolan?) were on to it anyway i.e. Making a virtue out of a necessity.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Minister … yes.
    A Deputy First Minister … probably not.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh Hell No, not more casually dropped Biblical References puns about these Revelations!

    (get it)

  • T.E.Lawrence

    It will never change as people will never change their voting habits so I am afraid we are stuck with the Crap we have up on that hill !

  • Mike the First

    Tsk. Intergalactic sectarianism.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “BOOM!!! BOOM!!!”

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m beginning to wonder if SF are actually strategically far-sighted after all?

    All they have to do is plod along, take flack from fringe republicans for the duration and in the meantime standby and facilitate in running NI into the ground, it should be seen as some sort of subversion but they’d struggle to be as effective as the DUP in ruining the place.

    After a while those who value quality of life above flegs will eventually seek to pull the pin…

    I dunno, I can’t figure it out…

    Oh, speaking of ruining the place, has anyone seen those oul’ buildings on North St have now been kowped?

    In any other city they’d be restored and viewed with pride, not Belfast, no they’ll either be yet another ruddy car park or ‘exciting new apartment development’.
    Meh. I’m off to the pub…

  • NMS

    Just read Fionnuala O’Connor’s column in today’s Irish News, while your there.

    As she correctly puts it, “But Sinn Féin is going nowhere. They will not walk out, therefore they have no leverage.” & as for Uncle Gerry, she says,
    “Respect the Irish language, pleads a weakened, off-balance G Adams. Meant as a dignified demand, it sounds almost piteous. ”

    Finishing with, “She will not be resigning, or conceding. Why would she?”

  • T.E.Lawrence

    The Planning Destruction of Belfast City Centre Historical Buildings is an absolute disgrace, all in the name of non NI Big corporation developers making big profits, buying, building and selling on Crap Square Box Apartments while “Brown Eveloping” local boys in the know and political parties representatives ? All Rotten to the Core !

  • Zorin001

    Haven’t been round that way for a while, was it the old North Street Arcade building?

    That fire was another murky episode that was allowed to slip into the long-grass to avoid awkward questions.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Dear God, imagine the DUP having control over the post-Brexit farming payments so much waste just to under regulate again.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Naw, further up the street, just past the Art Deco former Bank of Ireland.
    They were in bad nick but could have been great looking.

    Do any legal types on here know the ins-and-outs of compulsory purchase by councils?

    If the council could be cajoled into stripping developers of some of these old abandoned buildings it may force them to do something with them (other than knock them down).

  • Zorin001

    Careful now, your veering a bit too close to Socialism there; sure the free market will sort it all out.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m led to believe they did something similar in London but I know little of it.

  • Zorin001

    I agree with you we need to do something, the amount of useful property sitting empty or being knocked down to make an umpteenth car park is a disgrace.

  • Ciaran Caughey

    It is a disgrace that the Bank Of Ireland building is left derelict.Could the University not have used i?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    They’re the last group we’d want to be in custody of an art deco building, they knocked down the Metropole and Orpheus buildings this time last year.

    this blog shows what was done and what could have been done.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think there’s some sort of ‘path-of-least-resistance-law’ regarding car parks, I’m under the impression that it’s very easy to obtain permission to set one up so it’s much more profitable for property owners to knock a place down and open a car park in the mean time.
    I’d love to know what their rates bills are…

  • Blade Sprinter

    2015 WM DUP 26% SF 25% UUP 16% SDLP 14%
    1979 WM DUP 10% SF 1% UUP 37% SDLP 18%

  • Katyusha

    Personally, I can’t understand why car parks are approved anywhere near the city centre, instead of building the car parks outside the city and having bus/tram/rail links into the city.

    What is the logic behind incentivising people to drive into the city centre? Shouldn’t we be doing the opposite?

    Thanks for the link, by the way, AG. It’s a great piece.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You should pop in some day to see these guys:
    They’re in Donegall Pass.

  • Granni Trixie

    And listening to Jim Allister on the radio seems like he had identified Brimstone hence ARlene could have been taking a preemptive strike.

  • Oggins

    It will be more university accommodation, at scary prices, forcing parents and students to put themselves in more debt.

    The whole front facade could of been kept…. The question must be why was it not, whilst the rest of the building demolished.

  • Paul Kelly

    So Sinn Fein make an aggressive demand for the Irish language and its seen as banging a sectarian drum and trying to rile people up yet if they make a respectable claim for the language to treated accordingly its “weak” There is literally no win with you people its laughable. I’m sure if sinn fein were to walk out of the assembly the likes of this website would bang on about how the two parties can’t work together to get anything done (despite the fresh start deal being such a success on paper in the face of the harshest austerity in our time) but yet if sinn fein don’t leave the assembly that means their weak ? Again you sdlp sympathizers wonder why your party continues to decline all ye can do is scrape the barrel to look at anything to try and beat sinn fein with

  • Paul Kelly

    And Sinn Fein or any other party in the executive could have done what to prevent this exactly? oh ya and there abandoned buildings in every city of the world not just Belfast

  • Paul Kelly

    scrapped and started again with what ?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yip proves my point in 1979 – 66% voted Crap and in 2015 – 81% increased voting Crap !

  • Blade Sprinter


  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yeah – I know them, they are just 2 doors up from where Mary Ann McCracken once lived. The Ulster History Circle have a Plaque at this location – Mary Ann McCracken 1770-1866 Lived Here – Social Reformer. Hope the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society can get listed these buildings where they operate from ?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yip – Name me one political party worth voting for above ?

  • Devil Eire


  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well that’s my point, they can only put their hands up band say “it wasn’t me guv” and allow the DUP to continue to ruin the place.

    Secondly, i know of few cities that have as many abandoned city centre buildings as Belfast l, could you name a few?

    Liverpool was bad but they’ve made a big effort recently.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Eamomm McCann and his Jolly Band PBP are holding “Foster Must Go” Rallies at Belfast City Hall and Londonderry Guildhall Square on Friday 16th December 2016 at 5.30pm if you are interested ?

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “And Sinn Fein or any other party in the executive could have done what to prevent this exactly?”

    Sorry, are you talking about the old buildings?

    Well, for starters they and other parties could have used their influence to allow that area to be a conservation area (as was the plan) but now that these buildings, the old warehouses nearby, the Metropole and the Orpheus have all been wrecked in 12 months there’s probably not much left to conserve anymore…

  • Declan Doyle

    Thats worse ! 🙂

  • Paul Kelly

    But that applies to every party does it not ? With all due respect the DUP have a mandate and are the biggest party if sinn fein where to collapse the assembly and have a snap election and the DUP’s mandate was returned (let’s face it it probably would) than the DUP would be even more impossible to work with than before and nothing would get done. The way I see it sinn fein are trying to work as best they can with the DUP to rid the notion of “nothing gets done because they can’t get along” so it’s kind of sad to see people not acknowledge that almost as if your damned If you do but damned if you don’t

  • Paul Kelly

    Oh and as for abandoned buildings id say glasgow Birmingham and parts of Dublin and looking to America Baltimore and Detroit off the top of my head

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Did you even read what I wrote?!

    Spare me the party approved soundbites, for once i’m not slugging SF off rather i’m despairing at the DUP’s constant parade of incompetence.

  • Paul Kelly

    Yes I read what you wrote and your very first line was a dig at sinn fein in the face of a DUP scandal its laughable the lengths sdlp sympathizers and trendy lefties will go to knock a party

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I make no secret of the fact that I can’t stand SF.

    I also doubt if they’re far sighted given their actions on occasion but as I said above perhaps I’m wrong and all they have to do is sit back and watch the DUP et all run the country into the ground so that non-fleggy types want change.

    What’s also laughable is labelling critics of SF as SDLP or trendy lefties when everyone knows that the first thing a Shinner will do when THE PARTY or the Leader are criticised is apply a label to said critic rather than debate the accusation.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll have to go and eat a light bulb or drink a bottle of bleach or whatever it is that critics of SF do…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Which part of Glasgow city centre?

    I was there recently and what caught my eye was how they’ve finally got around to patching up the old derelict buildings in the city centre:

    The Olympia (Bridgeton) has been restored, most of the Merchant city has been repaired/restored and thon wonderful wee art noveau building out the back of St Enoch’s has been converted into a car park (a shame, but still, it lives).

    The Western Infirmary (or bits thereof) is empty but it’s only a matter of time before a developer snaps that up.

    As for Dublin, yes, there’s a fair whack of empty buildings but in fairness to the place they appear to be making at effort keeping the old buildings (indeed, SF held a rally in Moore st to protect some of the uprising buildings there).

    Belfast seems to have a combination of ensuring they stay derelict or get knocked down.

    Why they didn’t expand the Cathedral Quarter plan is baffling.

  • Paul Kelly

    The fact you make no secret about it and than go on to attack sinn fein regarding a DUP story nulls your credibility. “Rayne than debate the disussion” while simutaneously talking to someone that supports sinn fein who has been debating with them all morning ?

  • Blade Sprinter

    “Voters never change” – display evidence refuting statement.

    Followed by goal post moving. Followed by doubling down on divorced from reality paradigm.

    Standard unionist operating procedure. Reality is what I say it is right now, regardless of any contradicting or inconvenient statements otherwise.

  • Blade Sprinter

    “I make no secret of the fact that I can’t stand SF.”

    Have you tried seating them? I’ve found they are far more manageable with their bums planted and a sticky bun in their mawlers. Give it a lash next time, you’ll have more success!

  • Blade Sprinter

    “I also doubt if they’re far sighted..”

    Republicans, not far sighted. Riiiiiiiiiiight.

  • john millar

    Plans A-E

    1 Go to London and ask for more money
    2 Go to London and ask for more money
    3 Go to London and ask for more money
    4 Go to London and ask for more money
    5 Go to London and ask for more money

  • Redstar
  • woodkerne

    Arlene is demonstrably either a) corrupt, or b) stupid, or c) both. Either and/or is surely sufficient reason for disqualification from a senior role in public life. (Fourth option, as only half-jokingly suggested by others, she’s an SF plant.) Stand up for Croppies’ revenge.

  • Granni Trixie

    “Getting along” and collective responsibility ought not to mean though that there is no bottom line of toleration by SF and the DUP for one another’s incompetence/wrongdoing. Could it be they each know where the others dead bodies are?

    Given the scale of this current scandal I think SF are in danger of getting mired in the baggage of this one. So far they have tried to hedge their bets – not going for the jugular, yet sounding like they know there is some case to answer whilst at the same time slipping in the DUP line “blame the media…or civil servants”.

    To the public it’s not just that DUP mistakes/incompetence has emerged but in DUP/SF response they see a prime example of lack of transparency and accountability.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    The conventional logic is that ANYONE who criticises SF has no credibility anyway so what matters if I put up an honest disclaimer or not?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Getting alone with serious “mismanagement”? Really? In normal democracies even members of the same party call out “first ministers” on such conspicuous folly and put someone else in. Look, I know why both SF and the DUP are reluctant to do this, but it’s a mark of a very generalised complicity, and simply cannot be whitewashed over by any invocation of the needs of “power sharing”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    At least the boys “farming” in carpet slippers and letting out conacre have been compelled to buy a few sheep over the past few years and send someone out to look at them every so often by EU regulations, so yes, the possibilities for conspicuous waste may exponentially grow with such attempts to ensure payments reach actual farmers potentially removed.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Well Gopher,, most seem to think “the absence of an education never harmed me……”