The debate over the renewable heating initiative is generating more heat than light, Workers Party representative Lily Kerr has claimed.
‘There are of course questions to be answered but it is the Assembly’s political priorities which should be coming under public scrutiny’, Lily said.
‘The media debate is focusing on finding someone to blame and making them pay the consequences but in doing so it is completely ignoring the Assembly’s priorities and policies which have created a climate in which this kind of scandal can thrive’
‘Commentators are also queuing up to point the finger at the public sector – conveniently ignoring the near collapse of the economy and the need to bail the banks out with public money just a few years ago’, Lily said
‘If civil servants were negligible in administering this scheme, or in the commissioning of the new Strangford ferry, then explanations must be forthcoming.
However, responsibility ultimately rests with, and must be accepted by, the Ministers involved’.
However it was the Assembly which took the decision to borrow millions of pounds to delivery thousands of civil service redundancies as part of the ‘Fresh Start’ deal. You cannot take thousands of experienced staff out of the system and expect that it will perform as normal’, said Lily
‘They also decided that there was no money to offset welfare cuts but had no difficulty in finding the £400 million the renewal heat initiative is estimated to be costing.
‘This winter children, families and older people will wake up in cold homes, trapped by fuel poverty. They don’t feature in the Assembly’s priorities. Nor do the thousands of people affected by welfare cuts, many who although working require benefits to help them make ends meet’, she said.
‘There must of course be transparency and accountability in public policy but there must also be a set of priorities which address fuel poverty, benefits cuts and the maintenance of a viable public sector’, Lily concluded