UTV's political programme examines the issues at the heart of Stormont.
Runtime: 60 minutes
View from Stormont - Renewable Heat Incentive scandal - Netflix
The Renewable Heat Incentive scandal (RHI scandal), also referred to as RHIgate and the Cash for Ash scandal, is a political scandal in Northern Ireland that centres on a failed renewable energy incentive scheme that has been reported to potentially cost the public purse almost £500 million. The plan was overseen by Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the then-Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, who failed to introduce proper cost controls, allowing the plan to spiral out of control. The scheme worked by paying applicants to use renewable energy. The rate paid was more than the cost of the fuel, however, and thus many applicants were making profits simply by heating their properties. The political scandal first came to light in November 2016, by which point Foster had become Northern Ireland's First Minister. Foster refused to resign or stand aside during any inquiry, saying that to do so would be seen as admitting to some culpability in the matter. The affair ultimately caused Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness to resign in protest as deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland in January 2017 after ten years in office, citing Foster's refusal to stand aside from her role while an investigation took place, among other matters. In the power-sharing government, McGuinness' resignation also meant that Foster was removed from her role as First Minister, which in turn caused the Executive Office of Northern Ireland to fall. On 16 January 2017, Sinn Féin refused to re-nominate a deputy First Minister in protest at what they called the “arrogance and disrespect of the DUP”, thereby triggering a snap election. The Northern Ireland Executive collapsed and the Northern Ireland Assembly was dissolved on 26 January 2017. The Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2017 was held on 2 March. As of June 2018, Northern Ireland is still without a government as talks to form a power-sharing government following the election have failed.
View from Stormont - Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - Netflix
Shortly after McGuinness resigned, Foster called his actions “non-principled” and “purely political”. In his resignation, McGuinness said that there would “be no return to the status quo”. Foster said that she was “disappointed that Martin McGuinness has chosen to take the position he has today”. She said that, due to his actions, “we will have no government and no way to resolve the RHI problems”. She said that what annoys Sinn Féin “the most” was that the DUP will “always stand up for unionism and stand up for what is best in Northern Ireland”. Foster said that calls for her resignation are purely “misogynistic”. After the resignation, she also called for a public inquiry to be held under the Inquiries Act 2005. She said that, if the election did happen, it would be a “brutal election” and said that Northern Ireland would be “in for a period of direct rule”. She said that an inquiry could happen without the approval of Sinn Féin, who pressured Foster to step aside due to her “conflict of interest”. She said an inquiry, for her, would be “vitally important from a political perspective but also fundamental for me on a personal basis”. Sinn Féin's Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said Foster's plan for an inquiry was not credible and “it would be a laughing stock if we now had an inquiry that was set up at her behest”.
View from Stormont - References - Netflix