Ulster Unionist Finance Spokesperson, Philip Smith, has accused the DUP of deliberately picking the Economy portfolio, ahead of Finance, in an attempt to control the release of information on the RHI debacle.
Philip Smith said:
“Following Peter Weir’s interview on BBC Radio on Friday morning, the only thing clear was that it was a deliberate and calculated decision of the DUP to pick the Economy Department ahead of all other Executive Department’s following the last Assembly election.
“Many commentators, as well as other political opponents, were surprised with the DUP’s decision to bypass the Finance Ministry in favour of the Department for the Economy. This was a Department that the DUP had already held for the previous 9 years with only modest success, whilst Finance is arguably more significant given it controls the purse strings for all Executive and public sector expenditure in Northern Ireland.
“The ramifications of putting the fiscally illiterate Sinn Fein in charge of public finances have now become clear for all to see following their failure to even present a budget from the 31st March which will have a destabilising impact on all the public services we rely upon.
“By holding onto the Economy portfolio, the DUP have effectively been in charge of the release and flow of key information relating to the RHI debacle. Had another Party held the Ministry they possibly would have been more willing to shine a light on Arlene Foster’s involvement in the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, as well as being able to expose the full sinister involvement of DUP Special Advisers.
“Indeed, the Ulster Unionist Party – as well as many other media outlets – have a number of FOIs long overdue and the only reasonable explanation is that they are being blocked for release.
“The DUP, through their stonewalling and controlled release of information, have even ensured that the findings of the upcoming RHI public inquiry will now not be known before people go to the polls next week.”