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General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 29, 2017, 10:04:02 AM »
Another fine article by Sam McBride, with the following paragraph summing the current events up perfectly

There still is no smoking gun - no evidence that one of those whose decisions led to the catastrophe personally benefited from it. It may be that this scandal is actually incompetence on a scale so grand that it looks like corruption but is actually evidence of a Stormont system which cannot satisfactorily perform what are the basic tasks of government.

General discussion / Re: Death Notices
« on: January 28, 2017, 02:45:06 AM »
John hurt.. true legendary actor.. rip

Incredible actor, and just at a time when George Orwells 1984 is back in the best sellers list due to alternative truths....

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 28, 2017, 01:49:09 AM »
Michelle O’Neill dismisses any complicity in cash-for-ash scandal

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has dismissed suggestions she is complicit in any way over the botched green energy programme which could cost taxpayers up to half a billion pounds.

The party’s new leader in Northern Ireland has insisted fault in the so-called “cash for ash” affair lies with the DUP.

Michelle O’Neill is Stormont’s outgoing Minister for Health but was previously minister for agriculture.

It emerged in newspaper reports on Friday that the Department of Agriculture, when headed up by Ms O’Neill, had organised scores of workshops for farmers interested in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and highlighted its financial benefits.

There has been public outcry about the over-generous terms of the scheme, aimed at moving farmers and businesses away from fossil fuels to renewable energy such as wood pellets.

Those signed up to the scheme are expected to receive £1.60 (€1.88) in subsidies for every £1 spent.

Of some 2,000 signed up to the non-domestic RHI scheme, over half are farm businesses, including a significant number of poultry farmers.

There is no suggestion they have acted improperly, but a number of cases of suspected improper use are being investigated, including the heating of an empty shed around the clock.

Ms O’Neill has said she was unaware of how costly the scheme was until February last year. She claimed that despite the Department of Agriculture also promoting it, former first minister Arlene Foster was responsible as then minister for the department of enterprise, which oversaw the rollout.

In a statement, Ms O’Neill said when she was minister for agriculture her department was involved in promoting events around the RHI. It promoted “a wide range of grant schemes for farmers” mostly run by the EU.

“I did not attend any of these events,” she said. She said “at that time there were no particular concerns” about the scheme.

When Sinn Féin became aware of concerns the party “took decisive action to end it”, she said.

The DUP has said the accusations by Sinn Féin at Ms Foster, over responsibilty for the departmental failure to identify flaws in the scheme, could also apply to Ms O’Neill.

A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture said a series of events was facilitated to outline a range of renewable energy options for farmers and the rural sector. He said officials from a number of departments and organisations provided input for these events.

Meanwhile, Ms Foster has said she is confident her former adviser Andrew Crawford, who resigned last week, will be cleared of wrongdoing by the judicial inquiry into the scheme.

Last week Dr Crawford was named by civil servant Dr Andrew McCormick at the Public Accounts Committee as the special adviser who had allegedly used his influence to delay the reduction of the scheme’s excessively high tariffs.

Ms Foster has faced criticism for not outlining the specifics of Dr McCormick’s concerns when she addressed the Assembly on December 19th.

On Friday Ms Foster defended her position, saying it would have been wrong to have named a person on “hearsay evidence”.

Dr Crawford resigned claiming he did not want to be a “distraction”, but believes the public inquiry would prove he “acted with complete integrity”.

The fallout from the scandal caused the government to collapse and an election has been called for March 2nd.

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 27, 2017, 10:53:41 AM »
We are doomed if those 2 women become the top 2 after the next election. 

One stinking of corruption, and the other without a nose to smell it.....

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 27, 2017, 09:18:54 AM »
O’Neill’s officials promoted botched RHI energy scheme

Northern Ireland’s agriculture department organised 58 workshops for farmers interested in the Renewable Heat Incentive while Michelle O’Neill was minister for agriculture, documents obtained by The Times show.

Mrs O’Neill, the new leader of Sinn Fein in the North, claimed this week that she was unaware of how costly the scheme was until February of last year and that it was “entirely of the DUP’s making”.

The Times has obtained presentations from the workshops in which several officials from Mrs O’Neill’s department stressed the financial benefits of the incentive.

Figures released by the Northern Ireland economy department show that the majority of the 2,000 business claimants were farmers, all of whom applied to the scheme while Mrs O’Neill was agriculture minister.

Several of the workshops included talks by Tom Forgrave, a poultry industry representative who has six RHI-funded wood pellet boilers installed on his Ballymoney farm, where he raises 110,000 chickens.

Many of the presentations took place at the Department of Agriculture’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), which has six RHI-funded wood boilers at its three campus locations.

The incentive was launched in 2012 and closed for new applications in February 2016, all during Mrs O’Neill’s tenure as agriculture minister.

She had posed for photos and promoted biomass energy with a company that is the largest wood pellet producer in Northern Ireland and which heavily promoted the RHI.

As Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader and as the party’s longest serving minister in the region, Mrs O’Neill is strongly expected to be the party’s nominee for deputy first minister after assembly elections in March.

A 2013 Department of Agriculture presentation on the RHI has been taken down from its website but the department has supplied a copy to The Times. It shows that the department organised a presentation for farmers before the RHI was launched.

One department official advised potential participants that they could begin applying for the RHI on November 1 of that year and that the payments would continue for 20 years.

Another department of agriculture official used a Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) presentation to show farmers the financial benefits of the incentive.

Mrs O’Neill has claimed that Arlene Foster, who as enterprise and trade minister oversaw the rollout of the RHI, was responsible for the scheme, but the documents show that the DETI and the agriculture department both promoted the scheme.

The Department of Agriculture’s presentations included DETI documents and officials were invited to explain the RHI to potential claimants.

On October 29, 2015, the department held a presentation about renewable energy at the CAFRE campus in Greenmont, Co Antrim.

The presentation was less than three weeks before the final cut-off point of November 19, 2015, for the RHI’s most valuable incentives and in the middle of a rush to sign up: 40 per cent of claimants did so in the final six weeks before that date.

The programme included talks by Mr Forgrave as well as sessions by Department of Agriculture officials and two talks by a DETI official on the financial benefits of the RHI.

Mr Forgrave appeared before a Stormont committee this week and said that poultry farmers would not accept any changes to the RHI contracts, as had been proposed by Simon Hamilton, the economy minister.

The Times has made numerous attempts to seek comment from Mrs O’Neill.

Earlier this week she told The Irish News that she was not answerable in any way for the issue but acknowledged that many farmers had availed of the RHI subsidies.

“The scheme, as it was at that time before there were any problems indentified with it, was being advertised — it was a renewable incentive scheme,” she said.

“There’s no link or correlation to me being an agriculture minister.”

Mrs Foster has denied any wrongdoing and has said that she has nothing to hide in relation to the scheme. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Forgrave. Applicants who used the scheme went through an approval process and were acting in accordance with the legal parameters of the initiative.

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 27, 2017, 12:31:46 AM »
John Martin also grows willow for the woodchip Biomass industry as well as sheep and so forth.
Devils advocate, no laws broken though with all those names?

Arlene's husband didn't break any laws buying a wood to supply Balcas with wood chip but it looks pretty dodgy!
Is that true?  :o

Edit: just found this link. Didn't see any others

I would take anything on Judes blog with a pinch of salt.

I'm not sure about her husband buying a wood, and then again it wouldn't surprise me.

However, I will await and see if any official confirmation appears.

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 26, 2017, 09:53:36 PM »
John Martin also grows willow for the woodchip Biomass industry as well as sheep and so forth.
Devils advocate, no laws broken though with all those names?

Indeed, no laws have been broken so far. However, under a public inquiry, we may get to see that they knew
about the loophole and installed / supplied / or benefited from insider knowledge due to inside knowledge from
within the civil service, or DETI.

As Michael Doran from Action Renewables has pointed out, it would have been "Ethically Improper" to inform the Govt
about flaws in the scheme...... 

That will be his down fall (among others) I believe......

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 26, 2017, 09:07:34 PM »
DUP Renewable Heat Incentive RHI boiler scheme election party

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 26, 2017, 12:13:13 PM »
Who's behind the Renewable Heat Association?

THE Renewable Heat Association for Northern Ireland (RHANI) represents those involved in the renewable heat industry including non-domestic RHI scheme claimants.

It was formed about a fortnight ago as the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal gathered pace and Stormont faced growing calls to publicly name those who applied to the botched scheme.

On Tuesday the group secured from a judge an interim injunction preventing hundreds of claimants who are members of RHANI from being named by the economy department.

Membership of RHANI, which is administered by Action Renewables, costs £180 per person and a further £60 per eligible RHI installation.

With 450 people having joined RHANI by Tuesday evening, it means the group has already amassed more than £80,000.

The group has expressed concern about the speed of efforts to curb the costs of the RHI scheme, and intend to challenge new legislation in court.

They also say names should only be released after an audit of RHI claimants has been carried out.

There are nine people listed on RHANI's website as the founders of the new lobby group. A spokeswoman for RHANI said a formal committee will be elected in the coming days.

Michael Doran

Chairman and sole director of RHANI, and managing director of Action Renewables – a green energy charity paid by businesses to process RHI applications. Last year he took part in a BBC Spotlight programme in which he outlined RHI scheme flaws. Last week he told The Irish News it would have been "ethically improper" for Action Renewables to warn Stormont of issues.

John Martin

Chairman of Biomass Energy Northern Ireland, an organisation encouraging the use of biomass energy in the north. Its registered address on Companies House is the same as Action Renewables. Mr Martin also runs Gordonall Farms, a Greyabbey-based farming business that focuses on "efficient grass and livestock production", according to his LinkedIn page.

Christopher Osborne

Senior policy officer at the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), and also sits on its dairy and rural enterprise policy committees. In recent years Mr Osborne, from the Comber area in Co Down, has spoken on behalf of the union about concerns among farmers about milk prices.

Colin Newell

From the Ballymoney area in Co Antrim. He appears to be involved in a business called Ballyboyland Biomass. In 2013 he was listed as a haulier for farmers availing of the Stormont executive's Fodder Transport Scheme. Mr Newell declined to comment yesterday, referring queries to Mr Doran and Action Renewables.

Connel McMullan

Director of Alternative Heat, a Castlewellan-based firm established in 2003 that specialises in the design, supply, installation, commissioning and service of renewable heating systems. The firm, which has received Invest NI funding, offers a range of biomass boilers and open loop heat pump solutions.

Tom Forgrave

Poultry chairman of the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU). The Ballymoney man's poultry business and his installation of six wood-pellet boilers was profiled in an article on the Stormont agriculture department's website to promote RHI. In 2015 he won an Action Renewables award for the 'Most Successful Renewable Heat Installation'.

Elaine Shaw

Operations manager of Northway Mushrooms, a business based in Blackwatertown in Co Armagh. She spoke at a Stormont committee last week to represent the mushroom industry as part of RHANI. She told MLAs that mushroom growers entered the RHI scheme "for the correct reasons and have at all times adhered to the criteria".

Peter Lonton

According to his LinkedIn page, Mr Lonton is the business development manager of Green Energy Technology. The firm, firm based in Waringstown, Co Down, specialises in supplying, installing and commissioning a range of renewable heating systems including biomass and solar energy.

David Robinson

Involved in several green energy businesses including R&S Biomass Equipment. The firm, established in 2008, is based in Newtownstewart in Co Tyrone. The company last night played down Mr Robinson's involvement in RHANI. A spokeswoman said she understood that while he had discussions about the group forming, he is not part of the management committee or a director.

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 26, 2017, 11:19:49 AM »
Sinn Fein slow to clarify if any representatives in RHI

It is still not clear if any elected members of Sinn Fein or their families are receiving payments from the controversial RHI scheme.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday night, the party had not responded to a request for the information from the News Letter.

Some political parties have been auditing their members to establish a definitive list of any involved in the scheme – or who have family members benefiting from RHI payments. However a full list of recipients has not yet been complied and published.

A party spokesman for the SDLP said: “No SDLP public representatives are beneficiaries of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. One councillor’s brother lodged a successful application in February 2016 but will not benefit from the terms of the scheme which allow individuals to profit from burning wood pellets.

“The SDLP continues to call for the full list of RHI beneficiaries to be made public in the interests of transparency and full scrutiny.”

Both the DUP and UUP asked all of their elected representatives if anyone had benefitted directly from the RHI scheme.

A DUP spokesman said: “Carla Lockhart has indicated that her sister-in-law’s husband is a farmer and is in the scheme. Carla has only recently become aware of this.

William Irwin has a son-in-law who is a farmer and is in the scheme.” He added: “Neither MLA was involved in lobbying for these individuals and neither has any financial or other interests in the farms concerned.”

The UUP said a small number had relatives who were recipients of RHI payments, but said no elected representatives benefitted from RHI. “We have now been made aware that a business owned by an aunt and uncle of Sandra Overend MLA is a recipient under the RHI scheme, of which Sandra was previously unaware.

Mrs Overend’s uncle is married to a sister of Jim Nicholson MEP (making her an aunt of Councillor Sam Nicholson),” a party spokesman said. “We have also confirmed that Neil Somerville, who served as an Ulster Unionist MLA for seven months during the last mandate before standing down, has a wood pellet boiler accredited under the RHI Scheme in his family’s business, Clogher Valley Horses Welcome.”

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 26, 2017, 10:52:17 AM »
The Charity Commission is to look into Action Renewables role in RHI.

Charities watchdog launches Action Renewables probe

A CHARITIES watchdog is investigating after a green energy group paid to process RHI applications claimed it would have been "ethically improper" to warn Stormont of flaws in the scheme.

Action Renewables earned almost £250,000 advising on around 550 applications to the botched Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

The successful applicants account for about £300 million in taxpayer subsidies committed over 20 years.

Action Renewables' managing director Michael Doran last year appeared on a BBC Spotlight programme outlining flaws in the RHI scheme.

However, when asked last week why no-one within the charity relayed concerns to the government, he told The Irish News: "That's not what we were employed to do.

"If you're employed on behalf of a client to make an application it would then be ethically improper to then undermine that application by trying to have it withdrawn.

"The fact that the government created the scheme that some people now think is over incentivised is not our responsibility."

DUP economy minister Simon Hamilton described the comments as "deeply troubling", while Alliance's Stewart Dickson wrote to the Charity Commission calling for an investigation.

Last night the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland confirmed it has "opened a concern" into Action Renewables.

A spokesman said: "The commission's role is to ensure that charities operate within the scope of the charity law and it is on this basis that any investigation conducted by the commission is conducted.

"As a proportionate regulator, and so as to ensure that the investigation is fair, the commission will not be making any further comment while the investigation is ongoing."

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 26, 2017, 10:39:05 AM »
Michelle O'Neill says she is not answerable in any way for RHI scandal

SINN Féin's new northern leader Michelle O'Neill has said she was unaware of how costly the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was until February last year.

The former agriculture minister insisted she is not answerable in any way for the scandal surrounding the green energy scheme, which she described as "entirely of the DUP's making".

Speaking to The Irish News for the first time since succeeding Martin McGuinness on Monday, Ms O'Neill acknowledged that many farmers availed of the RHI subsidies but said that was "irrelevant" to her role at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dard).

The Irish News previously revealed how more than half of RHI claimants are farm businesses and that they had claimed two-thirds of £50m paid out since the scheme was launched in 2012.

Poultry farmers, most of which supply Moy Park, represent 871 of the 2,000 recipients.

The north's poultry sector has undergone a huge expansion in recent years, coinciding with the roll-out of RHI and Stormont's agrifood expansion strategy.

'Going for Growth' was jointly sponsored by Ms O'Neill's former department and Arlene Foster's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (Cafre), which fell under the control of Dard, had six RHI boilers spread across its three campuses in Loughry, Co Tyrone, Enniskillen Co Fermanagh and Greenmount Co Antrim.

Cafre was also involved in promoting the scheme, holding regular seminars for farmers which were publicised by the Dard press office.

However, Ms O'Neill - who was welcomed by a large crowd in her home village of Clonoe, Co Tyrone last night - rejected any suggestion that she could have been aware that the RHI was flawed.

"The scheme, as it was at that time before there were any problems identified with it, was being advertised – it was a renewable incentive scheme," she said.

"I think we all agree the scheme itself, that was trying to incentivise people."

She added: "There's no link or correlation to me being an agriculture minister."

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill back in her hometown of Clonoe, County Tyrone with Martin McGuinness. Picture by Justin Kernoghan.

Ms O'Neill also said she was unaware that hundreds of Moy Park suppliers, many in her own Mid Ulster constituency, were using the scheme to heat their poultry sheds.

She said 'Going for Growth' was designed to "grow all sectors right across the agrifood industry".

"I was concerned about the wider industry growth, how we opened up new opportunities for businesses," she said.

"Moy park is obviously a big employer in the area (Mid Ulster) and they're obviously a big trader internationally but in terms of actually being involved o their day-to-day business, it wouldn't be my job as a minister."

Asked when she became aware that the scheme was flawed, she said: "It's all in the public record whenever it was flagged up in February last year."

General discussion / Re: Arlene and The Renewable Heat Incentive
« on: January 26, 2017, 09:51:15 AM »
Going by the Nolan show, a bus is heading for Arlene.....

What was said GHD ?

Nolan Show says a senior DUP figure is claiming Arlene Foster withheld information from the Assembly on #RHI.
DUP has not yet responded

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