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RHI inspectors suspend payments to over half of the boiler owners they
have audited. An election now looks inevitable with no sign of a
political breakthrough. Are we about to see an end
to free school transport? And shocking and scandalous and I
cannot believe the education system is bearing the brunt.
a gun attack on a couple in their West Belfast home
I've been to Kilkeel to find out what Brexit will mean for the future
An injury scare for Rory McIlroy but he remains in contention
And black ice could cause problems overnight.
I'll have your weekend forecast shortly.
First tonight, it's been a roller-coaster of week beginning
with the resignation of the Deputy First Minister
which has brought the political institutions here to the brink.
Today, inspectors responsible for regulating the RHI scheme say
they've suspended payments at more than half the boilers
The Department for the Economy is also declining to disclose
information about participants of the scheme despite telling boiler
owners it would be "freely available" to the public.
Our agriculture and environment correspondent Conor Macauley has
From the start, extensive information on each RHI installation
was meant to be available for anyone. It included the location,
the time it was installed and how much heat it could produce.
Crucially, the information would also include the date the business
joined the scheme and how much subsidy had been paid. All of this,
they said, would be available to the general public for free, except it
isn't. We asked the Department for all that information a month ago and
despite repeated requests, it has still not provided it nor has given
a reason for not doing so. Boiler owners were told when they signed up
to the scheme that they consented to the publication of this information.
There's a huge amount of interest out there. Some boiler owners have
said naming would start a witchhunt. If the information was to be
published, it would lead to the identification of those who got into
the scheme giving the spike in November 2015 before the subsidy
changed. It was that spike that effectively burst the budget.
Hundreds of those RHI recipients have now objected in writing to any
plan to publish the names. It may create a plan for the authorities.
Under the data protection act they might have to review any decision to
wallow through on the economy minister's intention to put their
names out there and right back within 21 days to see if they are
going ahead with it. It pushes a list of names for pipe. But new
figures from inspectors may create an unstoppable pressure to proceed.
Ofgem said today out of 63 boilers they had expected they had suspended
payments to 33 of them pending investigations. Reasons given by
boiler owners for non-publication are fears of adverse publicity, loss
of business and crime. Officials will have to decide if that trumps
the public interest. Breaking news on the heating scheme
from Stormont. The business committee has been meeting in the
last hour about the debate on Monday and they have added this draft
statutory rule, drawn up by Simon Hamilton in the economy Department.
It is the plan from VDU PE to try and cut the costs of that heating
scheme -- the DUP. This has been added even though it hasn't been
passed by the Finance minister who has set his officials would go
through it with a fine tooth comb. Instead they are going directly to
the Assembly. Sinn Fein didn't object and apparently it is because
their representatives were not there which may be a sign of them not
taking part any longer in Assembly committee business but it looks like
one way or another it will be debated on Monday by MLAs. We
understand regulations drawn up in line with the fresh start agreement
to mitigate the effects of the bed in tax will also be added to the
order paper on Monday, probably less of a row about that because Sinn
Fein have said they will back that. It makes for an extremely busy day
because we will have the nomination or renomination of the first and
Deputy First Minister. We expect Arlene Foster's to go forward and
Martin McGuinness's not to go forward.
The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt says a call by his SDLP
counterpart for joint authority if the Stormont institutions
He and Colum Eastwood have pledged to work together as the official
But this week Mr Eastwood said direct rule would be unacceptable
Here's our political correspondent Gareth Gordon.
We have called time on the DUP's bullying and arrogance. We are back
to the issues of equality and the Good Friday Agreement. Steering
direct role in the face? We're going to go to an election. People will
have an opinion on the DUP's behaviour and I'm confident how they
will respond. Gerry Adams has made clear, equality is the Trojan horse
to great unionism and he once compliant unionist to roll over to
Republicans and time and time again, we will not do that. That's what
Sinn Fein is about because they are frustrated that we will not concede
to key Republican demands. So short of an eleventh-hour change
of heart Sinn Fein will refuse to nominate a deputy first minister
on Monday and an election Ulster Unionists gathered
at Stormont Today. They want the election
to be a referendum But what about their relationship
with the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood following his call for joint
authority if the institutions I wasn't aware he was going to say
it but I'm not surprised because after all he is a national spot the
line is, is not going to happen. Sinn Fein activists met in Derry
last night with an uncompromising message for the DUP. There are days
of demand and telling us what to do are over. We are making a stand.
Health is one of the biggest areas which is going to be affected
Gynaecology, which includes a hysterectomy operation, over 5000
people are on a less waiting to be admitted. More than 1100 have been
waiting between six months and a year.
The Health Minister Michelle O'Neill had planned to launch a strategy
to tackle waiting lists this month but without an Executive
A short time ago I asked the minister what she had
Because of the current crisis, confidence in the institutions
because of the RHI scandal, I said we're going to be in a difficult
position to overarching budgets for all other Government departments. I
never once said otherwise. I'm still waiting to publish the plan. As far
as health is concerned, you're good to go with this plan and you believe
you have the money and agreement from the finance minister to back
it? I absolutely can assure the public that I am doing absolutely
everything I can and I will publish an elective care plan but I'm not
waiting to publish the plan to take action. Our health correspondent is
here. Yesterday we were reporting this elective care plan had been
shelved so what has happened in 24 hours? This evening there is a
completely different to an emerging from the Department of Health, a
much more positive tone. Perhaps it has been influenced by the angry
reaction from the public when we reported yesterday that the elective
care plan for hospital waiting lists was going to be shelved. It's one
thing being able to publish a report on a plan, but something completely
different when you don't have the budget or an executive in place to
sign that plan off, that's exactly what the department told us
yesterday and that statement said that the current situation is, there
is no longer an executive in place to agree a budget for an elective
care plan, hence we said that the plan would be shelved. I think this
week what has been happening at Stormont has focused minds within
the health service between those who work in health and social care.
People are asking, if after an election a different health minister
is in place, which is highly likely, that person might be singing off a
completely different hymn sheet than Michelle O'Neill does at the moment
and what they intend to do with the health service could further
slowdown reform of the health institutions here in Northern
Ireland and that is something we can't afford to happen. Thank you.
We wait to see if this plan has published and implemented.
BBC Newsline has learned that charging families for school
transport which is currently free is part of a package of money-saving
measures being considered by the Education Authority.
The authority needs to make substantial cuts to its budget.
Our education correspondent Robbie Meredith has
Around 90,000 pupils - like these at Devenish
College in Enniskillen - get free bus passes to get
If they live more than three miles away from their post-primary school
or two miles from their primary school, the Education Authority
But meeting that bill costs the EA ?72 million a year.
And they've got to find around ?100 million in savings by next year.
The BBC understands that a yearly fee for school transport
of between ?50 and ?200 per pupil is one of the measures
A similar scheme operates in the Republic of Ireland.
There, families pay 100 euro for each primary child and 350 Euro
for each post-primary child, with a maximum yearly
Two thirds of Devenish College's 480 pupils currently
There will be clear evidence that many families are already struggling
so to add an additional burden on to those families, especially at the
charge was implied at the start of September, I think parents would
struggle to pay that additional fee. Meanwhile, at St Patrick's High
in Keady, 400 pupils get free school transport,
including the head I live about seven miles away and I
made use of the bus for the past few years and I know that at my parents
had to pay for me to get the bus to school, it would seriously impact
the family. As living in rural areas, it isn't easy to get in and
out of school -- us, because this is the closest school to us.
Their head isn't blaming the EA for the proposal.
If we can afford ?490 million in the Government, they need to look
somewhere else instead of education. There is a road to travel before
charges are introduced. The EA will have to consult
and even if it goes ahead they'll still pay the bulk of
a pupil's yearly bus fare. But it's another sign of just how
squeezed the education budget is. The police have described
a gun attack on a couple in their West Belfast home
as "brutal and callous." The father and mother were shot
in the legs as they tried The couple were attacked
in the living room of their home on Norglen Parade just
after 6:15 yesterday evening. Three masked and armed men
forced their way into the property It's believed they were shot
while attempting to protect their son who was also in the house
at the time. The couple were taken
to hospital for treatment The police say a criminal gang
were behind the attack but wouldn't be drawn
on whether paramilitaries The ordeal and trauma the couple
went through must have been horrific. This is a brittle and
callous and horrific attack on a defenceless couple in their house at
tea-time on a Thursday evening and I condemn it in the strongest possible
terms -- brutal attack. The people who did this have no moral compass
whatsoever. The family have lived in the area
for more than 15 years and are said to be well known and respected
in the community. I don't know who was involved and I
don't really care, they should not be bringing guns onto the street.
There is no place for guns in our society. Whatever the motivation for
the shooting, there is absolutely no justification and the people
responsible should pack up and go away. the shooting took place on a
busy street with a number of families live. A couple nearby
didn't want to appeared on camera but said they were disgusted at the
attack on their neighbours. The police are continuing to appeal for
information. Snow has caused travel problems
overnight and throughout today. And as Louise Cullen reports some
schools had to close. We were warned it was coming and
whether delivered on its promise. The snow was pretty to look at, but
the card scenes caused problems for some. This morning at seven o'clock,
there was only one lane of traffic, so parents couldn't park. Saint Joe
Sims wasn't the only school to shut for the day. In all, hundreds of
teenagers and children had the day off but they went too bothered. For
some, the snow has brought an unexpected day off. For others, it's
just me the day you get more challenging but for all of us, it's
been a chilly one. -- it's been a bit more challenging.
The Prime Minister is due to deliver a major speech on Tuesday
which will lay out how she sees the UK's future after it
Fishing regions voted heavily in favour of Brexit saying EU rules
Yesterday, I went to Kilkeel the home to many
For the fishing fleet here, what the cat and how much they can catch is
negotiated and agreed by EU states in Brussels. Many in this fishing
town believe that Brexit offers the opportunity to regain control of the
local waters they currently have to share. In a moment, I'll speak to a
fisherman's representative, but first, here is our South East
reporter. The Kilkeel fleet has flown the flight for Brexit. They
believe it as an opportunity to put right a wrong placed on it for
decades ago -- four decades. The subsequent quarters, regulations and
restrictions have been heated in these parts. All those things will
all go, post-Brexit, and we should be back to a position of plenty. but
turning around 40 years of the claim not be a simple matter and Brexit
also brings concerns to an industry hugely dependent on skilled migrant
workers. We lost a generation of skills within the fishing industry,
now a major problem, a looming crisis, is a shortage of crew and if
that's not addressed very soon, a lot of the boys there will be tied
up. Ironically, some of those who were pro-Brexit now feel the fishing
industry needs an exemption when it comes to skilled migrant workers. I
think we do, especially in the short to medium term, until we could
rebuild our own capabilities, to clear our own boats. Ultimately, an
industry like this one sinks or thoughts on the quality of its
product and the prawns being landed here are right up there with the
world's best. We had massive demand worldwide the day before the vote
for Brexit and an extent was the same, a world-class product will
always have demand. Take it will class product, create more and it
will pay better wages and get people into the industry. If it is managed
properly it will be successful worldwide. the hope and expectation
is that post-Brexit, the fishing industry in Kilkeel in particular
have a bright future. Fishing is a small contributor to the UK's
economy as a whole and to be a low priority to the Government in Brexit
negotiations. I asked a local fisherman how he could ensure the
fishing fleet here could not be marginalised. Last time we got lost
in the negotiation and we have to make sure it doesn't happen this
time. We had to put pressure on the politicians are people who count to
make sure our voices are heard and our needs are met. The EU is the
local fishing fleet's biggest customer so you need to maintain
access but that may come at a cost in regard to tariffs. Will that not
put more pressure on the local fleet? 40 years ago I would have
said that would have been an issue. The demand for fish that far exceeds
the supply and the people who eat it needed more than we need to sell it.
We've heard over the years plans to develop this harbour so that bigger
ships including herring ships can come in here but surely if we leave
the EU, that project, with no structural funds, is dead in the
water. You like as far as structural funds go, the UK is a net
contributor to the EU is what we are not putting funds in, we're having
to spend them on what we need to spend them on. As far as plans for
Kilkeel harbour ago, I'm more concerned about local politics than
Brexit and the state of the EU. The view of a local fisherman's
representative, speaking to me yesterday in Kilkeel on what might
happen with Brexit. night and day, the Stormont crisis
is being played out on social media. I want to hold an immediate inquiry.
Arlene Foster posted this video on Facebook after Martin McGuinness
resign. It's clear Sinn Fein's actions are not principled, they are
political. Martin McGuinness has also been posting online this week,
using Twitter to thank all those who said to him, get well soon. Sinn
Fein minister Martin had it were to over the bed and tax with DUP
Minister Paul Gibbon and when he changed his mind on the bursary
scheme, the announcement was made on Twitter. More and more often,
politicians are bypassing news outlets and utilising the power of
social media. It's happening all over the world. This politics
professor says we shouldn't be surprised. The key is that social
media is in their own hands and they can use it closely, so they enjoy
autonomy and would have to be bothered interacting with pesky
journalists. the downside is the online abuse they often get. Arlene
Foster gave her own response on Facebook. Every Stormont crisis
leads to online political satire. There's no shortage of material
online for those who can bear to watch it.
Gavin Andrews is here, and an injury scare for Rory McIlroy.
The world number two hurt his back before
starting his second round at the South Africa
Feeling the effects, he got off to a slow start before
Two late dropped shots saw him finish on nine under par,
three shots off the lead at the halfway stage.
I'm surprised I'm standing here. I've tweaked my back and the first
few shots of today were not very comfortable and still aren't. I
can't really take a deep breath because I'd done something to my
upper back so I'm going to go and get treatment today. Considering
that, I played well and stuck at it and hopefully I can feel better
tomorrow. Make the injury means you're going to withdraw? I don't
want to do that, that's why I kept going today. I'm going to see the
physio now and hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow.
Ulster Rugby face a must-win game at the Exeter Chiefs on Sunday
if they're to keep alive their slim hopes of making the knockout stages
Scrum-half Dave Shanahan will make his first start for the province
while Charles Piutau and Pete Browne also come into the starting line-up.
A lot of steps about how we need to win have been pointed out to us. We
need more opportunities than the opposition. Getting the killer
instinct is important for us. The boys are not far away, we just have
to stay strong and they are working hard every day. They had at home and
we keep on the momentum. We have to be prepared for that.
The Belfast Giants have a crunch game tomorrow night as they travel
to the Elite League leaders, the Cardiff Devils.
The Giants are second in the table and looking to cut the gap
Not invincible, they can be beaten. You've got to played a A-game.
In the Danskebank Premiership, Crusaders are away to Glentoran
tomorrow and will be looking to maintain their seven-point lead
We'll have the best action on Final Score at five o'clock.
Some of us got more snow than others. We begin to lose the cold
air over the weekend but it is still chilly tonight. We've had some nice
photographs. Tonight it is quite chilly, especially the first-half
and The Met Office has issued the weather warning. Black case could be
hazardous and places by the morning. Temperatures will dip to freezing
but as we make our way through the night, milder air is going to come
in and that will lift temperatures by breakfast time, still chilly
nonetheless but not as cold as this morning. The mildly continues to
move in so it will not be quite as cold but there will be scattered
showers. The scattered showers coming from the beginning of the
day, especially for northern and western areas. The will be sunny
gaps in between and those showers are hit and miss. With the
temperatures compared to today, seven or eight Celsius, so well up,
and if you're travelling around the ailing tomorrow, the odd scattered
showers here and there, some sunny gaps with temperatures of seven or
eight Celsius. Tomorrow evening, the northwesterly winds might make you
feel quite chilly towards the north coast with a shower here and there
but a largely dry end to the day. Tomorrow night, more rain coming in
and also milder air. By breakfast time on Sunday, we're looking at
temperatures of eight or nine Celsius, well above average for the
time of year and we're looking at highs of 11 or 12 Celsius by the
middle of the day, but a cloudy day, rain on Sunday for northern and
western areas especially but that is good news, we keep cold early for
Monday and Tuesday and temperatures are staying in the double digits.
Be careful on the roads and have a great
Parents are facing an explosion in the number of children saying