Former Secretary of State Peter Hain slams Arlene Foster's handling of RHI scandal

Former Secretary of State Peter Hain has said Arlene Foster's handling of RHI was a "textbook case" of how not to handle a crisis.

A FORMER Secretary of State, who helped negotiate devolution in Northern Ireland, has said Arlene Foster's handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal was, "a text book case" of how not to manage a crisis.

Peter Hain, who served in the north under Tony Blair's administration between 2005 and 2007, said the current political crisis was the "most significant" of the last ten years and made him question if there was "the same will to share power".

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle yesterday the former Labour MP said: "It's not a happy sight, it's a very serious situation, the most serious since we negotiated devolved government in 2007 when I was Secretary of State.

"The way the politicians are behaving, from the manner in which the first minister handled the whole scandal over renewable energy and since, does make me wonder they still have the same will to share power, to have stability and to keep the peace process on the road in the way that they did ten years ago".

Mr Hain said in his view Mrs Foster's handling of the RHI scandal was "a textbook case of how not to handle a crisis".

"I'm an admirer of Arlene Foster, she's got a great deal of ability, but the way it was handled to walk away from it saying, 'not me guv', the principle as a minister is a principle of ministerial responsibility.

"You are responsible as a minister for everything, I was a minister for 12 years, I never dumped on my civil servants because that's the easy thing to do.

"Sadly she did, and then blamed attacks on women and so on.

"But that's the past, what now needs to happen is everybody needs to think big, the need to think about the future of the country and the future of the people of Northern Ireland rather than party posturing", he said.

Mr Hain also accused the Conservative government, which took power in 2010, of 'neglecting' the north.

"David Cameron and ...Theresa May have not really given Northern Ireland the care and attention that I think prime ministers should give it from Number 10," Mr Hain said.

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