Northern Ireland news

RHI damaging to DUP, MLA admits as Arlene Foster holds 'loyalty check' meetings

Paul Frew admitted RHI reflected badly on the DUP. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

A DUP MLA has conceded that revelations at the RHI inquiry do not reflect well on his party.

North Antrim MLA Paul Frew is thought to be the first DUP representative to acknowledge the damage RHI has inflicted on the party.

"There's going to have to be lessons learned with my party and all others," he told the BBC.

"I believe that all parties will learn from this, I believe we will come out with better government and that's only a good thing."

Mr Frew said Sir Patrick Coghlin's probe should not be used as an excuse for stopping the return of the Stormont assembly.

"It should not be a barrier, it should not be an obstacle," he said.

"We should have an executive there tomorrow and an assembly there where we can scrutinise legislation and law."

Meanwhile, DUP leader Arlene Foster has held a series of one-to-one meetings with her MLAs.

Arlene Foster is said to have held one-on-one 'loyalty check' meetings with DUP MLAs. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

According to the BBC, a senior DUP figure said the objective of the meetings was a "loyalty check card" in the wake of damaging revelations at the RHI inquiry.

The DUP has said meetings were part of a policy development exercise and were not unusual.

"The DUP leader met with all MLA colleagues as part of an ongoing internal policy development process prior to meetings with the government," a statement from the party said.

According to the Nolan Show, a DUP source said Mrs Foster is in a "dark place" because of the RHI scandal and it was "50/50" whether she will continue as leader of the party.

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