McGuinness and Foster at odds over the response to the RHI Scheme

The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness has called on Arlene Foster to stand aside as First Minister for a period of time

I spoke by phone this afternoon with the First Minister, Arlene Foster.

“I outlined my serious concern that the credibility of the political institutions is being undermined by the serious and ongoing allegations surrounding the design, operation, abuse and ending of the Renewable Heating Incentive Scheme.

“This includes allegations from a former DUP Minster that there was corruption.

“This scheme has directly impacted on the public purse. Taxpayers’ money wasted in this scheme, needs to be retrieved.

“It is my belief the only way to establish the truth, and rebuild the reputation of the institutions, is to urgently establish a fully independent investigation into this matter.

“In addition, I also said that, in the public interest, she should stand aside from the role as First Minister while that investigation is underway and at least until an initial assessment had been concluded into the veracity of all the allegations.

“That is what I would do if I was in this situation. I asked the First Minister to take the time and consider this suggestion carefully

The DUP quickly shot back, rejecting this idea;

Earlier today the First Minister received a phone call from the deputy First Minister. It was suggested the First Minister step aside for a period of time.

The First Minister will not be stepping aside, but instead is focused on ensuring the full facts about this issue emerge and proposals are brought forward which can make a significant reduction in the future financial burden the Executive would face.

The First Minister does not take her instructions from Sinn Fein, but from the electorate

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs