Northern Ireland

RHI scheme: Minister told report 'nearing completion'

Image of fire
Image caption The RHI inquiry report is expected to be published in February

The Finance Minister Conor Murphy has written to the chair of the RHI inquiry to make arrangements about the publication of his report.

Mr Murphy told Sir Patrick Coghlin he had been told by his officials that it was "nearing completion".

He said he wanted to ensure that the process was free of "ministerial interference, or any perception of it".

The inquiry is examining why the scheme did not contain the same cost controls as the one in Great Britain.

Conor Murphy has directed that when a limited number of advance copies are sent to the Finance Department, which commissioned the inquiry, they are not shared with him or his private office.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Sir Patrick Coghlin, a retired Court of Appeal judge, is leading the public inquiry

Mr Murphy said copies provided should be sent to the permanent secretary of his department, Sue Gray, and a small number of named officials.

"I wish you well in the final stages of your work," he concluded.

The report is expected to be published next month.

It is understood the text has been completed and work is now concentrating on the proofing and publication.

The inquiry was established in January 2017 by Mr Murphy's predecessor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.

At the time Mr Ó Muilleoir told Sir Patrick Coghlin he would have responsibility for the publication of the report in order to "reduce any scope for political interference, or any perception of it".

More on this story