Northern Ireland

RHI: DUP MLA offers up her bank statements

Carla Lockhart
Image caption Carla Lockhart is a member of the Public Accounts Committee

A DUP MLA has offered to let reporters see her bank statements to prove she is not benefiting financially from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme.

Carla Lockhart made the comments at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, of which she is a member.

Ms Lockhart also confirmed a DUP statement which said she had a relative in the non-domestic scheme.

In December, Sinn Féin said PAC committee member Michelle Gildernew MLA had a brother in the domestic scheme.

Mrs Gildernew was absent from the committee on Wednesday.

The PAC has been running an investigation into the handling of the non-domestic RHI for several months.

The green energy scheme was intended to increase the creation of heat from renewable sources.

However, businesses were receiving more in subsidies than they were paying for renewable fuel and the scheme became majorly oversubscribed.

The fallout from the scandal surrounding the scheme, which is approximately £490m over budget, resulted in the collapse of Stormont's institutions and the calling of snap elections on 2 March.

Three times removed

Mrs Lockhart told the committee on Wednesday her brother-in-law had been a recipient of the heat subsidy since 2014, but she had been unaware of that fact until January 2017.

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She was responding to a request from UUP MLA and committee chair Robin Swann for any committee member with an interest in the scheme to declare it.

Mrs Lockhart said as well as being unaware of her relative's involvement with RHI, she did not "help or assist with the application process".

"My mother and father have poultry farms and do not have RHI and I can let any journalist see my bank statements and they will see there's no benefit from RHI," she said.

Mrs Lockhart said it would be useful to know whether any committee member absent from today's meeting had any interest in the RHI scheme.

The chairman said he would ask the committee clerk to write to all its members seeking the information which would be circulated to all the other members.

DUP MLA Trevor Clarke asked whether this would cover any relative including one "three times removed".

Mr Swann went on to thank members for their work on the inquiry.

He said they'd managed to remain "apolitical" and had done "sterling work".

He said the work was now in the hands of the upcoming public inquiry.

The committee does not intend to publish a report on the work done to date.

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