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10/01/2017

NI Situation Is 'Grave' - Brokenshire

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire has described the collapse of Stormont as "grave".

Mr Brokenshire made the comment at the House of Commons on Tuesday, 10 January.

He said: "The situation we face in Northern Ireland today is grave, and the Government treats it with the utmost seriousness.

"It is worth reflecting for a moment on how we have reached this point.

"The immediate cause of the situation we now face is the fallout from the development and operation of the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Initiative. Under this scheme, launched by the Northern Ireland Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in 2012 and equivalent to a scheme in Great Britain, businesses and other non-domestic users were offered a financial incentive to install renewable heat systems on their premises.
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"The scheme was finally shut down to new applicants in February last year when it became clear that the lack of an upper limit on payments, unlike the GB equivalent, meant the scheme was open to serious abuse.

"In recent weeks there has been sustained media focus and widespread public concern about how this situation developed. The Renewable Heating Initiative was, and remains, an entirely devolved matter in which the UK Government has no direct role.

"While the RHI might have been the catalyst for the situation we now face it has, however, exposed a number of deeper tensions in the relationship between parties in the Northern Ireland Executive.

"This has led to a breakdown in the trust co-operation that is necessary for the power-sharing institutions to function effectively. Over the coming hours and days I will continue to explore whether any basis exists to resolve these issues prior to me having to fulfil my statutory duty to call an election."

(CD/LM)

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