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
After @DeclanKearneySF said they wouldn’t at lunchtime Mairtin O Muilleoir now said he’s instructed officials to establish an inquiry
— Allison Morris (@AllisonMorris1) January 19, 2017
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs