Sinn Fein now back the call for a Public Inquiry

Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has announced that he will be setting up a public inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act. This is a reverse of the Sinn Fein stance on this issue.

Outlining his rationale he says;

Throughout this week I have been continuing to focus on the RHI crisis.

“As part of that work, I have been taking soundings and advice on the need for a no-hiding-place probe into the RHI scandal.

“It is clear that, with time short until the Assembly dissolves, the only way to serve the public interest is for me as Finance Minister to move to institute a public enquiry immediately. No other type of investigation is now feasible given time pressures.

“I have now instructed officials to take the necessary steps to establish a public enquiry under the Enquiries Act 2005 into the RHI scheme.

“I have received legal advice in regard to these matters. I will make a full statement to the Assembly next week.

“This enquiry will be impartial and objective. I will not interfere in its work. It will be tasked to get to the truth of this issue.

“Under the Enquiries Act, the enquiry report must go to the Finance Minister. I give a commitment that I or any Sinn Féin Minister will release the report in full to the public on receipt.

“I call on all parties to sign up to unrestricted, unedited publication.

“I am aware that the RHI issue goes beyond financial matters to questions of governance and probity. By getting to the truth of the RHI scandal, this enquiry report will, I believe, address those wider issues, and, therefore, put the public first

 However as Allison Morris points out as late as just a few hours ago some in the party were saying this was not a good idea

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  • Gary McCool

    This morning on The Nolan Show Declan Kearney ridiculed the SDLP for calling for a 2005 Inquiries Act public enquiry. Is one of them, Kearney or O Muilleoir, leading a SF breakaway faction?

  • WindowLean

    I have to admit you would need,at the very least, an Excel spreadsheet to plot SF’s position on the need for a public inquiry!

  • Jag

    “Anything you can do, I can do better, and I’ll be damned if Simon Hamilton gets his way and establishes an inquiry before me with him as the sponsor.

    “Any u-turn you can do, I can do better”

  • Mike the First

    Oh good, another Executive Minister testing out his summer footwear…

  • Jag

    It was more specific than that, wasn’t it, SF said it didn’t want a public inquiry because the DUP could shout “national security” and stop it. Why the huge u-turn after a fortnight of defending its own bespoke investigation, why boycott the Assembly debate which voted for a public inquiry this week.

    It’s a stupefying u-turn. Are we sure it’s not another SF typo?!

  • the moviegoer

    This was always coming. SF, unlike the DUP, think long and hard about wider public perception of their actions and eventually come to a reasonable position.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Jeekes, A public enquiry is gonna take an age to come to any conclusions and cost a mint ;-(
    No explanation given as to why an independent enquiry could not have been set up instead? Why not?
    At least its out of the way, for now !

  • WindowLean

    Andrew Crawford DUP Spad has resigned…I thought he did nothing wrong??

  • Colm Heaney

    So it’s due to time pressures that they themselves caused.

  • Jag

    Gawd, it seems ages since someone said this, but it’s really just 10 days!

    “”The SDLP’s criticism of Sinn Féin’s call for an independent, time-framed, robust investigation, led by a judicial figure, and which has the powers to compel witnesses and sub poena papers, is predictable point scoring by a party bereft of positive proposals and focused only on criticism of Sinn Fein.”

    “The SDLP approach would not only long finger the search for the truth – perhaps for years – but it could also cost tens of millions of pounds of public money which would be better spent on our health service.”

    “Bizarrely, the SDLP have called for an inquiry under the Westminster Inquiries Act which the SDLP have previously condemned as open to ministerial interference and which the SDLP leader has described as ‘flawed’.”

  • Katyusha

    This is bigger than SF merely backing a public inquiry, isn’t it? They’re actively setting one up.
    Good to see some action on this issue.

  • SDLP supporter

    Sinn Fein are running around like headless chickens on the public inquiry issue. And, by the way, Mairtin, it’s not ‘enquiry’.They really have no shame. This election is now seen to be quite unnecessary. I think that an inquiry, when it reports, will show that in OFMDFM, McGuinness was not paying attention to his brief, was just doing photo-opportunities, and let the DUP run rings around him on administration. He has some excuse, because it is clear he has not been a well man for months past, but the quality of his SPADs must be pathetic.

    It’s quite clear that Sinn Fein have no principles about anything. Having repeatedly cited the ‘National Security’ clause for not supporting the Inquiries Act, they have without a care put the Finucane family under the bus.

  • file

    Maybe Sinn Féin is a lady, and, as such, has the prerogative of changing its mind? Maybe never changing your mind is actually a bad thing?

  • WindowLean

    Careful now! The BBC are due to broadcast a “clarification” over Paul Givan’s remarks on The View last week about the Finucane family.

  • SDLP supporter

    Is the ‘enquiry’ going to judge-led or just done by Bobby Storey?

  • Gary McCool

    You are probably right Jag and it could be another typo too lol. Kearney seemed to me to be really riled by Claire Hanna and from memory I thought he was having a jibe at Claire about the SDLP settling for a 2005 Act Inquiry, (my bearing in mind, that SF had to be reluctant about settling for a 2005 Act Inquiry because of the precedent that might set for others in their constituency, like Pat Finucane’s family, who are looking for Inquiries . But hey who knows what rational SF applies these days

  • SDLP supporter

    Moviegoer, did it ever occur to you that the SDLP arrived at a ‘reasonable position’ on an RHI inquiry the first time of asking? Sinn Fein truly are the party of slow learners.

  • Granni Trixie

    Indeed, infact from AF lips just now I hear he has served the DUP and the whole country.

  • Granni Trixie

    The DUP have a conflict of interest – Hamilton triggering the process would have damaged it from the beginning. Waste of money.


    At least it looks as if we are going to have one now anyway, The British were not willing to get involved, none of the ministers for boilers were willing
    Arlene was going to set up one almost two weeks ago. Journalists obviously
    are afraid to ask her why she did not. The S.D.L.P just make noise without
    getting any heed.Now lets see the terms of reference.

  • file

    Inquiry and enquiry are just variant spellings of each other, like judgement and judgment. [Source Collins English Dictionary]. Now the Act uses the form Inquiry, but so what? Also, when Máirtín speaks, do you think he spells out the words he says? You are giving us pedants a bad name, and you seem to be more of a grammar maven than a proper pedant.

  • grumpy oul man

    RHI the gift that keeps on giving, A question, does a headless chicken need a pellet burner.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Is he a judge?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    But did you not want a public inquiry?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    What has he done for Cornwall?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Slow or cautious, the latter is more likely.

  • SDLP supporter

    I’d say that BS is at least verbally booting “the altar boy” Declan Kearney all over Connolly House. Something like: “Both you guys are ceasefire soldiers, neither of youse fired a shot or planted a bomb or served a minute in jail, but Pinocchio outranks you. Comprende?” (Expletives deleted, of course).

  • Gopher

    Explain to me why the finance minister is the only one who can call a public inquiry. I’m not sure the parties can sign up to it going to his offices. Independence through the whole process is vital.

  • SDLP supporter

    Of course we did, and still do, but it’s Sinn Fein’s shameless posturing, lies and time-wasting over this matter that I am excoriating. My information is that a “fragrant” senior member of Sinn Fein could be caught in the net.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Grand, whoever it is let them face the music. Why did the SDLP vote to keep the scheme open last year?

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Lol, thats funny.

  • Granni Trixie

    Don’t know about Cornwall but perhaps he’ll go to Coventry next?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Sinn Fein must be dizzy at this stage.

  • Granni Trixie

    Great stuff,file, I’m getting into it…

  • Cináed mac Artri

    There’s an awful lot of the fragrance of chicken pellets in the Stormont wind.

  • the moviegoer

    It did. But nobody’s voting SDLP anymore unfortunately.

  • Devil Eire

    There goes Foster’s ‘due process’ argument against stepping aside.

  • hugh mccloy

    A climb down not seen since the likes of Jack Lynch. Clearly though this shows the folly of having a Justice Dept that does not have civil law control. Its still under Dept of Finance, would we have gotten it earlier if it was not.

    SF must be getting it on the doors, so much so they will sell themselves out

  • Dreary Steeple

    Lady standing in West Tyrone has her posters up stating ‘People before Pellets’.

  • aquifer

    Is this like the border poll? Cry out for it and pray you don’t get it?

    The time may come when it is Sinn Fein’s turn to be enquired upon.

    Would they want the whole truth and nothing but, with the civil servants spilling all?

  • Gopher

    I think the ex Mayor looked at South Belfast and felt he was in trouble electorally

  • SDLP supporter

    The amended scheme with the tiered payments, AO’S, as I suspect you bloody well know. Don’t try to pull any deflection stuff on me.

  • Peter Doran

    Where an important concern all along regarding a public inquiry has been the scope for ministerial interference, there is a certain consistency and logic in a SF minister taking some ownership of the process, given all other constraints. Note the emphasis on non-interference and commitment to publication. Recall that Simon Hamilton’s Department was about to step in and take control of the PI initiative.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Calm down there now. Just confirming that your party voted to extend the scheme. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Anthony O’Shea


  • file

    Merci. We aim to please.

  • Skibo

    Problem for SF calling it is they will be accused as truing to get one over the other side, orange and green again.
    At least since Mairtin having called it, he should be able to set the parameters for the Inquiry and also how it will be reported.

  • Skibo

    Stupid comment! Not required. I suppose you are still standing by the SDLP saying that if SF had supported their motion before Christmas that Arlene would have had to stand aside?

  • Granni Trixie

    Independence is crucial – it must not be self serving. Otherwise it is a waste as otherwise it will not help restore public confidence. Having said that without the evidence of an enquiry RHI has revealed disfunctionality in DUP and government.

    For that reason I think Simon Hamilton triggering an enquiry was a no no but I can live with Sf doing so. Ideally I would have oreferred the SOS to do so. MOM claims he has already spoken to LCJ whom I
    presume will play a key role in choosing a panel or key person to conduct the Enquiry and set terms of reference. TOR definitely presents a problem if political parties have to agree on them.

    But if a key aim is to help restore public confidence I would like to think the political parties get their message that much damage has been done.

  • Jollyraj

    Nothing cautious about repeatedly and publicly flip-flopping, making dire threats etc etc.

    Just leaves their most eager cheerleaders looking foolish.