Northern Ireland news

Two senior republicans provided identical statements to the RHI Inquiry

Two senior republicans provided identical statements to the RHI Inquiry

TWO senior republicans provided identical statements to the RHI Inquiry, it has emerged.

New material released by the inquiry reveals that Martin Lynch and Ted Howell, both closely associated with Sinn Féin veteran politician Gerry Adams, both gave the same witness statement.

The News Letter yesterday reported that the only difference in the accounts was a slightly larger font size in Mr Howell's statement and that Mr Lynch signed his three days earlier.

READ MORE: Timeline of the RHI scandal

Mr Howell has had close links with Mr Adams for decades and was regarded as a significant figure in republicanism, particularly in the 1990s when he was trusted by the IRA as a go-between.

Mr Lynch was once Mr Adams' driver and described by Panorama’s John Ware as one of the IRA’s "most senior representatives" in 2003 when he had a key role in handling the Scappaticci informer a?air for the IRA.

The two men were asked written questions by the inquiry and submitted their statements, which it has now emerged were identical.

The inquiry heard of a litany of flaws in how RHI was devised, operated and managed.

Questions to Sinn Féin figures related to an Ofgem employee, Edd Fyffe, who had contacted the party in January 2017 and presented himself as a whistleblower.

He had set out a series of allegations against Ofgem.

Mr Lynch and Mr Howell said in their statements that they had handled his allegations appropriately and neither were called to give oral evidence to the inquiry.

The inquiry told most witnesses that they should not confer when responding to its questions and that the material given to them was to be treated in confidence.

However, the News Letter reported that that warning was not included in the inquiry’s letter to the two men.

But questions have been raised about why their two statements were word-for-word identical.

A Sinn Féin spokesman last night did not explain why the statements were the same.

But a spokesman for the party said: "Both men cooperated fully with the RHI Inquiry.

"The Inquiry did not feel it was necessary for them to attend and give evidence in light of the statements provided by them."

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