It has been sensationally claimed, from authorative sources, that former DUP Minister Jonathan Bell has tape recordings of meetings with DUP SpAds, senior party members and Civil Servants.
It is believed that Mr Bell began taping meetings following concerns arising over alleged undue influence being exerted by DUP SpAds. If, as is claimed, such tapes exist then they could fatally undermine the claims of the Joint First Minister Arlene Foster.
Today’s Assembly descended into a farce as DUP Speaker Robin Newton allowed a personal speech to be made by DUP leader Arlene Foster, without any lawful basis for doing so under the Assembly’s standing orders.
Robin Newton’s position is already on shaky ground following revelations over astonishing conflicts of interest in relation to the Social Investment Fund, and the Charter NI scandal. It now appears that the Speaker may have fallen on his sword at the behest of his DUP leader, Arlene Foster.
The DUP continue to try and stifle calls for a Judge-led public inquiry. There is, however, a way to circumvent the DUP’s attempts to block a full public inquiry. Jonathan Bell, as a former Minister involved in the administration of the RHI scheme, could apply to the Secretary of State under Section 1 of the Inquiries Act 2005 and request a full public inquiry.
This would take the decision out of the hands of the Executive, and force the Secretary of State to take the decision on whether there should be a full public inquiry. Should the Secretary of State refuse, then this is then a decision that could be judicially reviewed and in this regard a number of documents could, at that stage, be compelled and entered into the public record.
It has further been exposed that Arlene Foster did receive a second email, 8 days after the email released by the DUP, which made very specific allegations about the RHI scheme. The existence of this email was reported by the Irish News last week, and the content of the email was reported on the BBC Nolan Show this morning.
The drip feed of allegations in relation to the RHI scheme are set to continue for quite some time. There are a number of DUP members who either personally, or via their families, have benefitted handsomely from the RHI scheme and specific DUP SpAds are also understood to have encouraged associates to get onboard the scheme .
Mr Stephen Brimstone, former SpAd to the DUP Joint First Minister, is connected to a gross abuse of the scheme whereby a pipe was used to heat a private home, which was being run from a shed with ‘cash for ash’ boilers.
Today’s drama in the Assembly further undermines the DUP’s electoral slogan of ‘Arlene 4 FM’ and the DUP’s assertion that only a vote for Arlene Foster could keep Martin McGuiness out. It now has become clear, as many people pointed out during the election campaign, that electoral slogan was a lie. Arlene Foster cannot even make a speech without the approval of their partners in Government, Sinn Fein.