Northern Ireland news

Economy Minister Diane Dodds 'has questions to answer over censored report'

Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

STORMONT'S impending Easter recess will not allow the Economy Minister to evade questions over the "censoring" of a critical report, the UUP has warned.

The party's economy spokesman John Stewart said Diane Dodds "has questions to answer" about the alteration of a report on energy governance in Northern Ireland, funded by her department.

A number of remarks in the final version published by the University of Exeter earlier this month which cast the Department for the Economy (DfE) in a negative light were removed - including one implying weak leadership and saying "party political issues affected governance" did not appear.

Some of its most critical lines of the report by academics Dr Richard Lowes and Prof Catherine Mitchell were altered or removed following discussions between DfE officials and the report's authors.

"No one with even a passing familiarity with the RHI scandal and the subsequent public inquiry can be in any doubt about the systemic governance failings regarding energy policy here," Mr Stewart said.

"Therefore, the academic report by the University of Exeter Energy Policy Group, paid for by the Department for the Economy, should be required reading for policy makers and interested parties.

UUP Economy spokesman John Stewart said the minister `has questions to answer' about the alteration of a report on energy governance in Northern Ireland, funded by her department

"Reports that it has been censored with critical comments removed from the final report are worrying.

"The minister and her department need to be able to take on board legitimate criticism and feedback. Those things are vital in a healthy democracy.

“The minister has questions to answer which would have been asked in the chamber but for the assembly going into the Easter recess.

"The task at hand is to deliver an energy strategy using outside academic expertise where necessary to plug the gaps in capacity within Stormont departments."

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