03/01/2017 BBC Newsline


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The Ulster Farmers Union warned Stormont of a potential


spike in applications for the Renewable Heat Incentive


The information emerged as Sinn Fein threatened to trigger


an Assembly election unless the First Minister Arlene


Foster steps aside to allow an investigation into the scheme -


a scheme which she introduced as Enterprise Minister.


The DUP say Mrs Foster is going nowhere.


Here's our political correspondent, Gareth Gordon.


Stormont's Christmas trees stand there and exports. Soon, it will be


taken down, a possible sign of things to come for the building it


dawns. A political rift over something so seemingly mundane as a


renewable heating scheme has come to this. One of the Executive parties


threatening the other that it will bring down the institutions is the


First Minister steps aside. Sinn Fein have been very consistent about


what needs to happen. If full investigation, stopping the flow of


money, Arlene Foster standing aside. Whenever we tabled a motion, we were


very clear about what needs to happen next. If the crisis itself


leads to elections, so be it. As of now, Arlene Foster is not for


turning. She is a good First Minister. She is effective First


Minister. She is a good Unionist leader and you can understand why


Sinn Fein might want rid of her, but she is not going anywhere. In the


context of biomass boilers, that is what is cold meeting fire with fire.


A snap election would be liked and the unknown for all of the parties,


made even more unpredictable because, for the first time, voters


will be electing only five MLAs per constituency instead of the current


six. For now, other parties can only stand back and wonder. I do not know


what is going to happen. The ball certainly rests with Sinn Fein in


terms of they have the power that nobody else has to bring down the


institutions and for an election Mrs Foster has it in her gift to stand


aside and take the leadership role in starting to restore public


confidence in the integrity of Stormont. An election or not serve


this crisis, because day one after the election when we come back up


here and sign back into the Assembly, they RHI scandal will


still need to be resolved. There will still need to be a public


inquiry and we will still need to find some kind of solution to try to


limit the damage that is going to be done. A journalist who has done much


to uncover this murky story's secrets believe that talk of an


election is a distraction. There is a possibility that Martin McGuinness


could resign as typically First Minister, immediately putting Arlene


Foster out of office. They could then insist that the DUP have a week


in which to replace her with likes Simon Hammond won for four weeks. If


that did not happen, the choice would be the DUP's to go for


election. -- Simon Hamilton. Stormont as smouldering but not yet


up in flames. I've been hearing more


about the Ulster Farmers Union's intervention in the controversy,


from our political correspondent, We know the critical phase in this


crisis became between the 1st of October 2015 and the middle of


November that same year. That was the period whenever we had this as I


and applications, when almost 900 people applied to this particular


scheme, 50% of the overall number that cashed in. It was that period


that we went past limit, pushed the costs so far and it has left us with


this bill of over ?400 million. We have learned today that the Ulster


farmers union had warned Department officials from three months prior to


that date that this spike was looming, that it was on the cards


and that was going to be a surge in applications. That raises some


serious questions. If it was not within the industry that was


happening, why were steps not taken within the department to ensure that


cost controls were put in place and we would not be in the mess we're in


now? And if the then Minister was aware of this warning from the


Ulster farmers union, union, why did he not take steps to ensure that we


would not be facing the status that we are facing right now? All of


these questions, I am sure, will feature if we get this investigation


the parties all agree we now need. Belfast City Council has passed


a motion calling for a full public inquiry into the handling


of the Renewable Heat Incentive. The motion further calls


on the First Minister Arlene Foster to step aside whilst


the inquiry takes place. From the independent counsel Ruth


Patterson, formerly of the DUP, a call for a full public inquiry into


the handling of the RHI scheme, and for the First Minister Arlene Foster


to step aside during it. The secretary of state of the public


responsibility to initiate and inquiry regarding this. Public


confidence in Northern Ireland has been severely damaged because of


of the biggest scandals that we have of the biggest scandals that we have


had for some considerable time and we need to get the truth and we need


to get justice for the people of Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein failed


to amend the motion to call not for a full public inquiry but for an


independent inquiry led by a judicial figure from outside


Northern Ireland. We think the public want the truth but they also


wanted as quickly as possible. They did not want to wait a year or two


like some of these public inquiries can take, so we think the best way


to do this is a robust, transparent investigation that will get to the


truth quickly. And unsuccessful Ulster Unionist Party Amendment even


cold for Arlene Foster to resign. It was predictable that the amount of


party games being played here, it is clear that they are not interested


in solving the problems that RHI, which would should be trying to move


forward, they're not interested in getting towards an independent


investigation, just trying to find ways of having a go at the DUP and


undermining the First Minister Arlene Foster. The councillors voted


to take this step have said they are simply responding to growing public


concern about the handling of the RHI scheme. And to the public's lack


of confidence in the Stormont institutions.


The Communities Minister, Paul Givan of the DUP,


has been accused of blatantly discriminating against


Just a couple of days before Christmas he decided to withdraw


funding for a bursary scheme as our education correspondent


The programme known as Liofa, the Irish word for fluent, was set up to


encourage people to learn the Irish language. A bursary scheme worth


?50,000 per year enabled up to 100 people to spend time at language


skills every summer. But those schools received an e-mail in Irish


from the Department for the two that lunchtime on the 23rd of December.


Translated, it said, bluntly... The message, and its timing, caused


anger. We are calling on the Minister to explain the motivations


behind this decision. We are calling on him to review his decision and


ultimately reverse what can only be described as a blatant and


deliberate attack on the Irish language and its learners. So, do


you think this was a political decision as much of a financial one?


The December summit decision came at the end of a highly political week


at Stormont. We are calling on the Minister himself to explain if it


was a political or economic decision. We are calling on him to


fully explain is motivations. There has been strong political reaction.


The SDLP said it would challenge the decision, whilst Naomi Long


described it as petty. Sinn Fein also want answers from the


Executive. When you look at the broader political followed,


departmental spending and budgets, ?50,000 annually for what is in such


a cause and such a beneficial scheme for young people, I think the


Minister needs to be very forthright and open and come out and tell us


what his Russian has been for cutting this modest sum of money. --


what his rationale has been. The communities minister was not


available for interview. The money may be relatively small, but it has


provoked widespread and reaction. A former police officer


from Carrickfergus is among a group of Chelsea football fans who've been


given a suspended one year jail 52-year-old Richard Barklie,


who was tried in his absence, is one of four men who were found


guilty of racially abusing a man at an underground station


as football fans travelled to a match in the city


in February 2015. The men were also ordered to pay


the victim ten thousand Pressures over Christmas on hospital


emergency departments led to hundreds of people waiting more


than twelve hours to be treated, The official target is for no-one


to wait that length of time. But in the nine days


from the Christmas Eve to Monday the second of January,


462 patients had to wait The worst numbers were in


Antrim Area Hospital, where 165 people waited


for 12 hours. 94 patients waited the same period


of time at the Ulster. At the Royal Victoria 28 people had


to wait over 12 hours. George Best Belfast City Airport


is to be allowed to increase the number of seats it can sell


per year on departing flights. Residents groups in east Belfast


have fought the move for 12 years, fearing it will lead


to a busier, noisier airport. Our business correspondent


Julian O'Neill reports. Kate Ingram is about four miles from


Belfast City Airport, but under a flight path she says life is not


always as peaceful as it seems. I like to sleep with the window open


and in the morning, the first plane goes by at about 6:45am,. So, that


is it, you're a week that time, even if you've fancied a lie in. You have


not got a hope. Residents groups have been worried about the impact


of the busier airport and fought to keep a limit on seeds for sale at a


public inquiry at 2014. Adopting the inquiry's recommendations, Minister


Chris Hazzard is now set to review the removal of the seats cap. It has


been set at 2 million departure seats per year. The restrictions


will will be replaced by new noise controls. This will limit high


levels of noise to within a zone of just over five kilometres. The


airport was looking for much more liberal noise control and we wanted,


which would have affected many more people. What the minister has said


if yes, I will remove the seeds for sale cap but in addition to that we


are going to implement the additional public inquiry


recommendations, meaning tougher noise controls than the airport was


seeking. The airport was in breach of the seats cap restriction years


ago when it tad RyanAir. But not in more recent times. It has not


commented on this latest move, and outcome 12 years and three judicial


reviews in the making. But it has seen the cap as technically a


hindrance to choosing new business. In tonight's football,


league leaders Crusaders beat Ards Linfield went down one-nil


against Coleraine. There were also wins


for Glenavon and Glentoran, while Cliftonville and Dungannon


both drew their home matches. Good evening. The weather so fairly


settled at the moment. Not the sparkling function of yesterday. A


lot more cloud around today, and that is how we are going into


tonight. A bit of a breeze around the coast but mainly dry to begin


with. Later in the night, a weak weather front approaches from the


north-east, bringing a narrowing band of rain into some northern and


eastern areas. Staying dry towards the Saudis. His clouds cover,


frost-free. Temperatures between four and 6 degrees. Tomorrow, things


eventually cheer up but we will still have that week weather front


around so a cloudy morning, with patchy rain working its way


southwards and westwards. Moving into parts of the Republic and part


of Wales, the size of England, into the South West. That rain breaking


up all there. A milder day than today. Elsewhere, after a frosty


start, plenty of sunshine coming through but it is going to be


chillier, particularly along those North East ghosts. If few showers


running in and a brisk northerly wind, but eventually seeing some


sunshine. Come back to Northern Ireland for the afternoon and it is


mainly dry. Variable cloud but brightening up from the north-east.


The best of probably in these areas. Highs of around seven or 8 degrees


and that breeze using them. Frosty tomorrow night, Thursday mainly dry


under high pressure but a change over a night. Rain coming in and


quite brisk winds. Once it clears out of the way on Friday, drier,


fairly cloudy but milder as well. Our next BBC Newsline


is at 6:25 in the morning