Northern Ireland news

RHI report not due until 2020

Sir Patrick Coghlin's report into the RHI scandal is unlikely to be published before the new year. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

SIR Patrick Coghlin's much-anticipated report into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal is unlikely to be published before the new year, The Irish News understands.

Ongoing work on collating the RHI inquiry's findings, coupled with mid-December's Westminster election, mean the chances of publication before the beginning of 2020 are remote.

In January, it will be three years since the controversy around so-called cash for ash precipitated the implosion of the Stormont executive. It will also mark three years since the then finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir announced the setting up the inquiry into the botched green energy scandal.

The Sinn Féin MLA said at the time that he hoped a report would be delivered within six months.

A spokesman for Sir Patrick's inquiry, which concluded its oral evidence sessions a year ago, said: "The inquiry is not yet ready to publish its report. It remains a work in progress."

It appears unlikely that even if the report was finished it would be published during the purdah period ahead of the Westminster election, which would then leave just a week before the Christmas break.

In recent weeks those singled out for criticism by the inquiry have been provided with opportunity to respond ahead of publication through a representations process.

The inquiry heard of a litany of flaws in how RHI was devised, operated and managed, as well as claims over the impact and influence of DUP ministers' special advisers.

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