Not the right time for an election, says MLA

Robbie Butler MLA
Robbie Butler MLA

The resignation of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is likely to lead to an Assembly election in the coming weeks.

However, Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler has criticised the Sinn Fein man’s decision to step down, describing it as “premature”.

Mr Butler, who sits on the Public Accounts Committee at Stormont, says that dissolving the Assembly now will mean no plan for tackling the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal, which could cost the public purse more than £400 million.

“The Public Accounts Committee has been investigating the RHI scheme fiasco for several months. As a committee member I have not commented publicly so far on the matter as I felt that a fair investigation was the best way forward for the people of Northern Ireland,” the UUP man said.

“We were on the cusp of bringing the First Minster, Arlene Foster, before the committee to face serious questioning, however this will no longer happen.

“If the Assembly dissolves for an election now, we will be left with no plan for tackling RHI, no budget passed and no Programme for Government.”

Stressing the need for the public to know the truth about the RHI debacle, Mr Butler added: “The timetable for any fresh election is at the discretion of the Secretary of State. I implore him to do what he can to establish a full inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 before an election is called.”