03/01/2017 BBC Newsline


03/01/2017

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The Ulster Farmers Union warned Stormont of a potential

:00:09.:00:11.

spike in applications for the Renewable Heat Incentive

:00:12.:00:13.

The information emerged as Sinn Fein threatened to trigger

:00:14.:00:19.

an Assembly election unless the First Minister Arlene

:00:20.:00:21.

Foster steps aside to allow an investigation into the scheme -

:00:22.:00:24.

a scheme which she introduced as Enterprise Minister.

:00:25.:00:31.

The DUP say Mrs Foster is going nowhere.

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Here's our political correspondent, Gareth Gordon.

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

:00:45.:00:49.

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

:00:50.:00:53.

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

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

:00:58.:01:02.

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

:01:03.:01:06.

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

:01:07.:01:09.

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

:01:10.:01:13.

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

:01:14.:01:16.

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

:01:17.:01:21.

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

:01:22.:01:25.

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

:01:26.:01:31.

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

:01:32.:01:34.

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

:01:35.:01:38.

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

:01:39.:01:43.

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

:01:44.:01:47.

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

:01:48.:01:51.

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

:01:52.:01:55.

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

:01:56.:02:02.

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

:02:03.:02:05.

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

:02:06.:02:09.

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

:02:10.:02:14.

aside and take the leadership role in starting to restore public

:02:15.:02:17.

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

:02:18.:02:21.

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

:02:22.:02:25.

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

:02:26.:02:28.

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

:02:29.:02:32.

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

:02:33.:02:35.

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

:02:36.:02:38.

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

:02:39.:02:42.

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

:02:43.:02:45.

could resign as typically First Minister, immediately putting Arlene

:02:46.:02:48.

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

:02:49.:02:54.

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

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

:02:58.:03:02.

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

:03:03.:03:04.

up in flames. I've been hearing more

:03:05.:03:05.

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

:03:06.:03:07.

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

:03:08.:03:18.

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

:03:19.:03:21.

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

:03:22.:03:25.

and applications, when almost 900 people applied to this particular

:03:26.:03:29.

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

:03:30.:03:35.

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

:03:36.:03:39.

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

:03:40.:03:45.

farmers union had warned Department officials from three months prior to

:03:46.:03:48.

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

:03:49.:03:52.

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

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

:03:56.:03:59.

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

:04:00.:04:02.

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

:04:03.:04:05.

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

:04:06.:04:18.

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

:04:19.:04:21.

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

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

:04:24.:04:24.

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

:04:25.:04:26.

a motion calling for a full public inquiry into the handling

:04:27.:04:29.

of the Renewable Heat Incentive. The motion further calls

:04:30.:04:31.

on the First Minister Arlene Foster to step aside whilst

:04:32.:04:33.

the inquiry takes place. From the independent counsel Ruth

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

:04:49.:04:52.

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

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

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responsibility to initiate and inquiry regarding this. Public

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confidence in Northern Ireland has been severely damaged because of

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

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

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

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

:05:19.:05:22.

independent inquiry led by a judicial figure from outside

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

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

:05:30.:05:32.

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

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

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truth quickly. And unsuccessful Ulster Unionist Party Amendment even

:05:44.:05:47.

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

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

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

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

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

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undermining the First Minister Arlene Foster. The councillors voted

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

:06:10.:06:12.

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

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of confidence in the Stormont institutions.

:06:17.:06:19.

The Communities Minister, Paul Givan of the DUP,

:06:20.:06:21.

has been accused of blatantly discriminating against

:06:22.:06:23.

Just a couple of days before Christmas he decided to withdraw

:06:24.:06:26.

funding for a bursary scheme as our education correspondent

:06:27.:06:28.

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

:06:29.:06:48.

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

:06:49.:06:51.

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

:06:52.:06:55.

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

:06:56.:07:00.

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

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

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

:07:19.:07:21.

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

:07:22.:07:24.

ultimately reverse what can only be described as a blatant and

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

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

:07:32.:07:35.

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

:07:36.:07:43.

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

:07:44.:07:46.

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

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

:07:50.:07:51.

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

:07:52.:07:54.

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

:07:55.:07:58.

Executive. When you look at the broader political followed,

:07:59.:08:00.

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

:08:01.:08:05.

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

:08:06.:08:10.

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

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

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what his rationale has been. The communities minister was not

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

:08:23.:08:24.

provoked widespread and reaction. A former police officer

:08:25.:08:27.

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

:08:28.:08:30.

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

:08:31.:08:32.

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

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guilty of racially abusing a man at an underground station

:08:40.:08:43.

as football fans travelled to a match in the city

:08:44.:08:46.

in February 2015. The men were also ordered to pay

:08:47.:08:49.

the victim ten thousand Pressures over Christmas on hospital

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emergency departments led to hundreds of people waiting more

:08:54.:08:59.

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

:09:00.:09:01.

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

:09:02.:09:10.

from the Christmas Eve to Monday the second of January,

:09:11.:09:13.

462 patients had to wait The worst numbers were in

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Antrim Area Hospital, where 165 people waited

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for 12 hours. 94 patients waited the same period

:09:22.:09:24.

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

:09:25.:09:29.

to wait over 12 hours. George Best Belfast City Airport

:09:30.:09:36.

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

:09:37.:09:39.

per year on departing flights. Residents groups in east Belfast

:09:40.:09:42.

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

:09:43.:09:45.

to a busier, noisier airport. Our business correspondent

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

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

:10:02.:10:05.

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

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

:10:10.:10:15.

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

:10:16.:10:20.

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

:10:21.:10:23.

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

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

:10:30.:10:32.

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

:10:33.:10:36.

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

:10:37.:10:40.

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

:10:41.:10:45.

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

:10:46.:10:51.

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

:10:52.:10:54.

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

:10:55.:10:58.

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

:10:59.:11:04.

are going to implement the additional public inquiry

:11:05.:11:06.

recommendations, meaning tougher noise controls than the airport was

:11:07.:11:10.

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

:11:11.:11:15.

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

:11:16.:11:20.

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

:11:21.:11:24.

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

:11:25.:11:26.

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

:11:27.:11:31.

league leaders Crusaders beat Ards Linfield went down one-nil

:11:32.:11:33.

against Coleraine. There were also wins

:11:34.:11:36.

for Glenavon and Glentoran, while Cliftonville and Dungannon

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

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

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

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

:12:04.:12:06.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:12:32.:12:35.

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

:12:36.:12:39.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:13:09.:13:11.

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

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

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fairly cloudy but milder as well. Our next BBC Newsline

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is at 6:25 in the morning

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