Arlene Foster’s Assembly colleagues in Fermanagh and South Tyrone have repeated calls for her to stand aside and allow for a full independent investigation into the RHI scheme without political interference.
Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch told the Herald that “a full independent investigation needs to be held into the design, operation and abuse of the RHI scheme”.
He added: “All of the facts need to be established, the public needs to know who benefited from this. The First Minister should therefore stand aside to allow the investigation to happen; and urgent measures are needed to limit the damage to public finances and the tax payers.
“Our consistent aim in this crisis has been to restore public confidence in the institutions, to hold the DUP to account and to make the institutions deliver in the way intended.”
However, the SDLP’s Richie McPhillips hit out at Sinn Fein for failing to “muster a single member to vote to stand her aside” during Monday’s vote at Stormont.
“Sinn Fein has not listened to the people who elected them. Rather, they were more concerned about protecting Arlene Foster, in propping up the DUP and in kicking this issue down the line. This is a complete abdication of their responsibility as serious allegations have been made surrounding corruption within the RHI scheme.
“We now have a devalued First Minister in a devalued Executive. The First Minister needs to listen to the electorate, and realise her position is untenable, she needs to stand aside while a full, independent and judicially led investigation is conducted into the circumstances surrounding the introduction of the scheme, its implementation and its closure,” he added.
UUP MLA Rosemary Barton echoed the call: “The only way forward to getting the truth and resolving this debacle is to have a judge led investigation which is open and transparent. This should include Mrs Foster stepping aside from her role as First Minister in order to allow the full facts to be assessed.
“Further, with the need to restore public confidence in our institutions, it was expected that there would be a ministerial statement on a plan to mitigate this financial disaster, but this did not happen, which is another reason why immediate action needs to be taken.”
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