Northern Ireland news

Economy minister yet to publish names of any RHI claimants

Anyone who was a member of the Renewable Heat Association at 5pm on Tuesday is covered by the injunction
John Monaghan

ECONOMY minister Simon Hamilton had yet to release the names of any RHI claimants last night following a court order preventing details of some boiler owners being published.

The Department for the Economy has not issued a statement on the matter since Tuesday evening, when it said that the DUP minister was "considering the court judgment".

Mr Hamilton had previously said he would release the full list of claimants yesterday, but Mr Justice Deeny imposed an interim injunction on Tuesday stopping any personal details of members of the Renewable Heat Association (RHA) being disclosed.

The injunction, expected to be in place until a decision is made in the judicial review case next week, covers all those who were members of the RHA at 5pm on Tuesday.

It does not include hundreds of other claimaints not belonging to the group, or the four per cent of RHI recipients who have consented to their names being published.

Michael Doran, chairman of the RHA, said that had been a "spike" of people applying to join the group between 3pm and 5pm following announcement of the injunction.

He told the BBC that more than 100 names had been added to the 300 existing members in the immediate aftermath of the judge's ruling.

Mr Doran, who also heads up the non-profit group Action Renewables, also revealed he had received abusive and threatening tweets and emails.

He said: "I am getting flak and I don't even have a boiler."

Lawyers for the RHA had claimed that publishing names would breach privacy and data protection laws, and damage the reputation of individuals who have legitimately claimed.

Gerald Simpson QC, for Mr Doran and a boiler owner referred to as DA, said the disclosure would "lead to a feeding frenzy by the media".

"The reputation of individuals who have done nothing wrong will be damaged simply by the fact their names are being put in the public domain at a time when there's sensationalist reporting of the matter."

However, Tony McGleenan QC, for the department, said: "It cannot be overstated that there's deep and profound public interest in understanding how this scheme operates and how it can be that the public purse will be depleted to the extent forecast this year and in coming years."

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