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The Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir has said
unless Arlene Foster steps aside temporarily as First Minister.
He was speaking after what were meant to be clear the air talks
the DUP Economy Minister Simon Hamilton,
on the failed heat incentive scheme.
Mr O Muilleoir also described a DUP plan to deal with the crisis
Our business correspondent Julian O'Neill has the details.
The DUP had talked of a plan involving emergency legislation
which would totally wipe out a projected ?490 million RHI
overspend. The Finance Minister was initially sceptical about the plan,
and help clear the air talks today with the economy minister. But
afterwards, the Finance Minister was totally dismissive of what the DUP
plan was. He said it was a sticking plaster, nothing but hype designed
to save the political skin of the First Minister. We met at a frank
meeting, but also bitterly disappointing. I left the meeting
without a plan in my hand and I am told that when this plan arrives,
despite all the hate in the media, it will not be a comprehensive plan
to close down RHI. It will be an interim solution, a sticking
plaster. In my view, this is not the time for sticking plasters. This RHI
crisis shows no signs of easing. It is turning into something of a poker
game of who will blink first. Today, the Finance Minister told me that as
far as he is concerned, there is no alternative but for the First
Minister to temporarily step aside. Be clear on this, if Arlene Foster
does not step aside, they will not be an Executive, there will not be
institutions for all of two work to build... And all the work, and from
others have been working very hard to build bees and these
institutions, but they cannot exist if Arlene Foster continues to play
fast and loose with the rules and the DUP continue to disrespect the
institutions and its corruption remains at the heart of government.
The public deserve more and I think the DUP, for all of the hype,
understand that. Can there be a fudge, a negotiated way out of this
which sees Arlene Foster remain First Minister? No.
The Department was meant to be delivering the budget for the next I
mention here but this scandal is totally overshadowed everything
here. The DUP's plan may arise in full detail next week, but even then
the Finance Minister says it will take time to assess.
Senior DUP figures have criticised one of their former MLAs
for describing Arlene Foster's handling of the RHI scheme
David McIlveen, who was once a DUP MLA, also says Mrs Foster
is unlikely to lead the party into the next election.
Senior DUP figures say Mr McIlveen does not represent
Our Political Correspondent Stephen Walker reports.
Once, they were political team-mates, but now David McIlveen
has split ranks and told the Newsletter Arlene Foster
has misjudged the public mood over the RHI scheme.
He said the scandal has become an omnishambles and claims
she will not lead the party into the next election.
There is a deep misunderstanding at the minute, within the party,
around the definition of humiliation and humility.
And I think those two words are being mixed up,
in that there seems to be some feeling that to show any
form of contriteness around this issue
People want humility, not humiliation.
But David McIlveen's analysis is not shared by senior party figures.
The groundswell of support within the DUP is for Arlene Foster
and indeed that she is not an electoral liability,
that she has been an electoral advantage to us,
and the DUP strongly support Arlene Foster in her role
and will give absolute support in continuing to do so.
David McIlveen is not the first DUP member to criticise
Last month, Johnathan Bell gave a dramatic interview
to Stephen Nolan, and today, a former DUP councillor appealed
to disgruntled party members to go public.
They need now to come out and if they feel that this is not
going the way it should for unionism, and it is not good
for unionism, please come out and speak out against it.
Even internally, in their own party, say something.
Because to say nothing is going to get us nowhere.
So, is the writing on the wall for the DUP leader?
There is much political pressure on Arlene Foster,
and today the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, wrote in
Arlene Foster says she will not step aside, but her political party has
no consensus on what a fresh inquiry into RHI would look like.
Her political opponents say that has to happen and there is no consensus.
So, the New Year has begun the way the old one ended,
with a story that every day brings fresh developments
and a political stalemate that shows little sign of ending.
A Portadown GP surgery that was facing closure
after its last remaining doctor resigned has been given a lifeline
after a new contractor was found to take over the practice.
However the doctors union, the BMA, says surgeries
across Northern Ireland are struggling to
With three children and elderly relatives to help care for,
Claire McConville-Walker is a fairly regular visitor
to her doctors surgery in Portadown.
This morning, she told me her fears that
the medical practice could close after it lost its last doctor.
Pretty much my whole family use the surgery and
some are dependent on medication, and they need a regular GP in order
to be given that medication to make sure that it is right.
But I think a lot of it's for peace of mind, to know
that there is a GP there who is knowledgeable
of their conditions, who knows them,
But this evening, some good news for Claire and her family,
A new GP contract provider has been found
to take over Bannview from early March.
But recruiting GPs, particularly in rural areas,
is a growing problem, and a Northern-Ireland-wide one.
In County Antrim, the lone GP at this medical practice
The Health and Social Care board says negotiations are still
GP practices are busier than ever and
it becomes harder to attract younger doctors to train as GPs.
We have a situation where particularly in the
west and in the south, we do not have enough doctors.
So we are going to see an awful lot of practices close in
the West, particularly in Fermanagh and Armagh.
This will probably move forward to affect other counties
It will be rural areas and small towns will lose
their GP practice and we will be consolidating down
Last autumn, the Health Minister promised more funding for
GP services, including more training places for GPs.
But it will be years before those doctors are ready to go
That still leaves some practices in
the short-term facing an uncertain time ahead.
A Strabane mother who lost her teenage son and brother
says those who're destroying life saving equipment
Local search and rescue organisations are also concerned
at the ongoing vandalism, and have called for it to stop.
Here's our North-West reporter, Keiron Tourish.
Over recent months, there has been concern here
about the level of vandalism to life-saving equipment
Local search and rescue organisations say
there were around a dozen life belts installed,
but now some of them have either been burned or removed.
Lorraine lost two members of her family in drowning tragedies -
her five-year-old brother Eddie in 1972,
and on May 28th 2012, her 17-year-old son died in an accident
She cannot understand why anybody would tamper
These people that are doing this are mindless and are not thinking.
Now it is the start of the new year and in
the next five months, it will be even warmer weather.
God forbid somebody, you know, in the warm weather,
what happened to my son, the water is very appealing
and God forbid somebody get into trouble
and, you know, they might need these and they will not be there.
This man's brother drowned in the river nine months ago.
He now gives up his time to help one of the local search and
It was very upsetting for everybody, the family, every family
You do not know how it hurts unless you go through what we have
went through and to see things like this happening,
Those who have lost loved ones to the river,
have stressed that this equipment is vital,
especially when people are in a vulnerable position.
They have urged those behind the vandalism to stop
Now, he's a man more at home in a packed football stadium
but this week the former World-Cup-winning Brazil manager
onboard the 212 service from Londonderry to Belfast.
Big Phil, as he's affectionately known,
has been seen strolling around the two cities in recent days.
Posing for a picture with the man who drove him
Luiz Felipe Scolari caused a bit of a stir when those
Goldline service realised a World-Cup-winning coach
One of the passengers asked the former Brazil
It is understood he was in Northern Ireland to visit his son,
who is studying at a local university.
The former Portugal and Chelsea boss led his home nation to glory
He is currently in charge at the most valuable
football team in China, Guangzhou Evergrande.
As well as the bus station, he was also spotted
Whilst it is not clear if Big Phil has plans to return
the users of the 212 service will be keeping a keen eye out
Now, with the weather forecast, here's Barra Best.
It is certainly not as chilly tonight thanks to a lot of cloud.
That is giving us some patchy light rain and drizzle at the minute.
Through the early hours of Friday, heavier and persistent rain will
come in from the Atlantic. Temperatures will stay at about 6
degrees, for Norfrost to worry about tomorrow morning. It will be windy
start, and will stay cloudy and damp but we hold the milder air. Cloud
breezy start to the day to begin, outbreaks of rain, some of which
will be heavy first. Lasting through much of the morning before it clears
the way of the East Coast. A similar picture for much of Ireland if you
are travelling. That weather will eventually push its way across the
Irish Sea, affecting many areas of Britain through the day, with the
exception of some central and south eastern areas, where we should stay
dry with sunshine. But it will be cloudier and milder the further
north and west. For us, by the middle of the afternoon,
temperatures should reach 12 degrees, well above average for a
time of year. It will stay grey, misty and murky, with some patchy
light rain and drizzle continuing to come and go. It will stay much the
same through tomorrow evening and overnight into Saturday, with the
exception of the wet weather. It should clear away. Temperatures
staying at seven or 8 degrees, what we would normally see budget. A lot
of cloud on Saturday, the odd spot of wet weather but a good deal of
dry weather. We hold onto the milder conditions on Sunday and Monday, but
are at times with further patches of rain.