5 January 2017
Stormont crisis can be sorted – if Arlene Foster ‘does the right thing’, says Gerry Adams
‘Neither the public nor Sinn Féin can continue to countenance the manner in which the DUP conduct business within the Executive and the Assembly’ – Gerry Adams
IF Arlene Foster wants to continue as First Minister “she needs to do the right thing”, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams insisted on Thursday. She should stand aside to facilitate an independent process that gets to the facts of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal effectively and quickly.
Writing in his weekly column in the Andersonstown News, Gerry Adams said that the way in which the DUP has handled the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal “has significantly deepened a crisis that already existed” after a lot of “DUP messing” in the Assembly.
Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin’s Assembly team has navigated a way through a number of crises and scandals for almost 10 years, the Louth TD said.
“A lot of good work has been done by the Executive and the Assembly and significant progress has been made on many issues, including on cross-Border and all-Ireland matters.
“On other issues there has been little or no progress,” he added though.
“I’m thinking here of the longstanding absence of a Bill of Rights. There has also been a shameful lack of respect accorded to the Irish language and to those citizens who wish to live their lives through Gaeilge. The reprehensible decision on the eve of Christmas to cut funding for the Líofa programme is just one example of this.”
Among other examples of what he described as “DUP messing” are the decision to renege on the Programme for Government commitment on the Long Kesh site, the DUP’s resistance to the legacy and truth recovery mechanisms of the Stormont House agreement, and the Project Eagle/NAMA debacle.
“These issues, and the previous Christmas-time crises, mean that – even before the emergence of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal – the behaviour of the DUP had already led to a considerable lack of public confidence in the institutions.
“The RHI scandal, and the manner in which the DUP has handled it, has significantly deepened a crisis that already existed.”
● Sinn Féin Ministers Chris Hazzard and Michelle O’Neill with deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont
Gerry Adams said that when the Assembly resumes on 16 January, a Sinn Féin motion on the RHI scheme will be debated.
“It is a common sense proposal which comprehensively addresses the many issues which have given rise to public concern.
“It calls on the First Minister to stand aside in order to facilitate an independent, time-framed, robust and transparent investigation and until a preliminary report is presented.
“It will also propose that this investigation would be undertaken by an independent judicial figure from outside this jurisdiction and with the power to compel witnesses and documents.”
“Over the Christmas break, Sinn Féin took legal advice on the potential efficacy of our proposals. That advice (and we have accepted it) pointed to the need to address in clear terms the issue of compelling persons and papers in any investigation to make it effective.
“But, whatever the outcome of that debate, the reality is that the political institutions have reached a defining point.
“Neither the public nor Sinn Féin can continue to countenance the manner in which the DUP conduct business within the Executive and the Assembly.
“Can this be sorted out? Of course it can.
“That would require Arlene Foster to do what Peter Robinson did. She should step aside to facilitate an independent process which gets to the facts of the RHI scandal effectively and quickly.
“This is a straightforward case. The First Minister has been in office for a relatively short time. If she wants to continue in that office she needs to do the right thing.”
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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures