NI: Sugden rejects claims she can call RHI inquiry

Justice Minister Claire Sugden
Justice Minister Claire Sugden

Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister Claire Sugden has said she cannot call a public inquiry into the RHI scandal by herself.

Ms Sugden reiterated her call for an independent investigation into the scheme in an interview with BBC’s Good Morning Ulster.

However, she said an inquiry is “not a justice department issue” and would require her to “consult with the executive committee”.

She added: “So people saying I have unilateral power on initiating a public inquiry are misinformed.”

In the Northern Ireland Assembly last month, Ms Sugden said she would “certainly support a full independent investigation, judicially led if necessary, to clarify and substantiate information that is now in the public domain and, indeed, that which is not”.

She joined the DUP in voting against a motion of no confidence in Ms Foster, supported by SDLP, UUP, Green, PBP and TUV MLAs.

Speaking today, Ms Sugden said she felt the First Minister and deputy First Minister “have both let me down”.

However, she said she would be less inclined to support a motion that insisted on Ms Foster stepping aside.

She said: “I could support a motion that asks for an independent investigation. I would be in two minds about an investigation that is caveated by someone stepping aside because essentially that’s punishment without proper fair investigation.”

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