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The DUP suspends former minister as the 'ash for cash' scandal burns on

The North’s former Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell had accused DUP figures of delaying plans to close down the scheme.

DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster insists she will not resign over the £400 million scandal.
DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster insists she will not resign over the £400 million scandal.
Image: Niall Carson/PA

THE NORTH’S FORMER Enterprise Minister has been suspended from the Democratic Unionist Party, amid the continuing fallout from the ‘ash-for-cash’ scandal.

In a BBC NI interview last Friday, MLA Jonathan Bell claimed that he was met with a hostile reaction when he informed First Minister Arlene Foster that a government energy scheme was being abused.

The scheme’s overruns run to the equivalent of half a billion euro. Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has called on Foster to “stand aside”. She faces a no-confidence motion in the northern Assembly tomorrow.

Foster also refused to shut the scheme – known as the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme – down, Bell added. Today, the BBC reports that Bell has been suspended from the DUP.

DUP spokesman Jeffrey Donaldson said Bell had been “suspended without prejudice”.

“If you look at the DUP rules, Jonathan did not seek permission for the interview that he did,” he told the BBC.

He did not tell the party in advance what he was doing and that’s not the way that most political parties operate.

In May 2015, Bell succeeded Foster as the North’s Minister for Energy Trade and Investment.

Foster denies any involvement keeping the flaws of the scheme hidden, and has insisted she had actually reported the flaws to the relevant people once she was made aware.

She also says she regrets the flaws in the scheme that lead to its abuse, she defended the idea of a renewable energy scheme.

It’s thought the scandal will cost Northern Ireland taxpayers £400 million.

Read: ‘Arlene Foster told me to keep the scheme open’: Conflicting reports of NI energy scandal

Read: Pressure mounts on North’s First Minister to resign after energy scheme scandal

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