Northern Ireland news

Top RHI church claimant has received almost £60,000

Hebron Free Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney has received almost £60,000 in RHI payments
Gareth McKeown

A Free Presbyterian church in Co Antrim which has a DUP assembly member as an elder has received almost £60,000 in RHI payments in two years.

Hebron Free Presbyterian in Ballymoney is the biggest beneficiary of seven church properties listed among claimants published last week.

The figures released by the Department for the Economy show the church claimed for two boilers, with one of the applications placed during a spike in autumn 2015.

An application for a 99kw boiler was made in February 2015, with £39,000 received in payments up to this month.

The application for the second 60kw boiler was received on October 19 2015 and has date attracted almost £20,000 in subsidies.

RHI: The biggest claimants revealed

One of Hebron's elders is former finance minister Mervyn Storey. The North Antrim MLA has previously stated he had no role in the church's application and gave no advice in relation to it.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by the church or Mr Storey.

Speaking in December, Rev David Park said Hebron did not enter into the scheme to make a profit.

"We applied for the scheme through a church committee in 2014. It was all done very legitimately; We never entered it to make money. In fact once we learned that there would be excess money coming in, we made the decision to use it for charitable work," he told the News Letter.

Rev Park said the church is committing at least £5,000 each year to missionary work to compensate for the excess subsidy being received.

The second highest church claimant listed in the figures is Hillsborough Parish Church, which has received £39,000 in payments on two boilers since November 2013.

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