Appointments, Policy & regulation

Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister Martin McGuinness has announced he will step down in protest over the devolved administration’s mishandling of the renewable heat incentive (RHI).

McGuinness’s resignation is the latest news in a brewing scandal over Northern Ireland’s RHI scheme.

The RHI was designed to promote uptake of renewable heat technologies including biomass. Due to inappropriate tariff structures however, the costs of the scheme spiralled and it is now said to be more than £400m over budget.

Announcing his resignation, McGuinness cited the RHI overspend as his reason and said his first minister Arlene Foster has a “clear conflict of interest” in the scandal.

In a resignation letter, McGuinness who belongs to the Sinn Fein party, said: “It is my clear view that the DUP’s [Democratic Unionist Party’s] handling of this issue has been completely out of step with the public mood which is rightly outraged at the squandering of public money…The public are demanding robust action and accountability but the DUP, and in particular its leader Arlene Foster, have refused to accept this.”

Foster launched the RHI scheme in 2012 before becoming first minister and there have been calls in recent weeks for her to step down in recognition of the scheme’s failure.

Foster has denied she is responsible for the RHI’s inefficiencies and last week hit back at those calling for her resignation as being “misogynist”.


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