Stormont - where incompetence carries no sanction


By Tommy McKearney (

Having carried out a costly 12 month long forensic investigation into the Renewable Heat Initiative or ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal, Patrick Coghlin has failed to identify any individual responsible for the fiasco.

Nobody is to be made accountable and life carries on in the surreal political world that is Northern Ireland.

The minister in charge of the department responsible for the scheme was briefed of its flaws by whistleblower Janette O’Hagan as early as 2013. Nevertheless, in spite of this she remained oblivious to what thousands of others knew and exploited. Moreover, having inexplicably failed to read the legislation she presented to the Assembly, Mrs Foster felt and continues to feel under no obligation to do the honourable thing and offer her resignation. On the contrary, the DUP leader has actually been rewarded and now acts as First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Across the corridor from Mrs Foster sits Michelle O’Neill who throughout the years of the ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal was Stormont’s Minister for Agriculture. Notwithstanding the fact that a majority of those installing biomass boilers were poultry farmers, the minister apparently remained blissfully unaware of the lucrative scheme that many of her constituents and supporters were availing of. However, as with Arlene Foster, this prolonged period of somnambulance has had no detrimental impact on Ms O’Neil’s career. She now holds the position of Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister

What, therefore, are we to make of a political entity where normal standards of proper governance is so spectacularly absent? An area where administrative incompetence, to the extent of visible failure to fulfil core parts of ministerial jobs, carries no sanction?

The answer has to be that these qualities matter little in a failed political entity that now has a diminishing raison d’être and no long-term future. Otherwise, those with power would take better care to ensure administrative probity and integrity by demanding accountability from its most senior politicians.

How much longer can this dysfunctional Ruritania continue?

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