Northern Ireland

Long-awaited RHI report due on Friday March 13

RHI inquiry chairman Sir Patrick Coghlin. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
RHI inquiry chairman Sir Patrick Coghlin. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

THE much-anticipated report into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal will be published next month.

The report will be released on Friday March 13 and follows the inquiry led by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin, which was ordered by the then Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir more than three years ago.

At the time the inquiry and subsequent report was forecast to cost in the region of £5m. However, given that the evidence hearings and compiling the report lasted much longer than the six months originally envisaged, costs are expected to be substantially higher.

A process of sending out so-called Maxwell letters, which notify those facing criticism in the report, began last autumn.

The inquiry's oral evidence sessions ran from November 2017 to December 2018 and heard from a range of politicians, including DUP leader Arlene Foster, former economy minister Jonathan Bell and Mr Ó Muilleoir, who like Mr Bell has since stepped down as an MLA.

Former DUP special advisers Andrew Crawford, Tim Cairns, Timothy Johnston and John Robinson also gave oral evidence, as did a number of government officials.

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

The inquiry was established to investigate and report on scheme's original design and implementation, its initial operation, and the circumstances relating to the imposition of cost controls in the scheme in late 2015, as well as the circumstances relating to the suspension of the scheme to new applicants in early 2016.

The report will be launched in Stormont's Long Gallery.