‘THE SHIT KEEPS HITTING THE FAN’ – By Brian Rowan

 

In the basement of Parliament Buildings, Wednesday, Jan 18, sitting with a few colleagues watching senior civil servant Dr Andrew McCormick give his evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, I uttered a swear word.

It was an exclamation of shock at the detail of what was being said and heard.

This committee shovelled deep into what has come to be called the RHI scandal. 

As the session developed and detail was given, we read how this was being reflected on Twitter stretching across several hours on Wednesday afternoon – ‘Jaw dropping,’ ‘explosive’ ‘incredible’ and ‘shocking.’

Woven into the record during several hours of questions and answers were words and phrases spoken by Dr McCormick and Committee MLAs that could become the chapter headings when the full story of the botched RHI scheme comes to be written.

‘Get in quick’, ‘Perfect Storm’, ‘Inside Information’, ‘Hearsay’, ‘If you Insist’, ‘exerting Influence’, ‘no such thing as free money’.
Add to this the possibility of two secret recordings. 

Then the potential for a £•5b overspend in the RHI scheme and we find a huge jigsaw piece now in a wider picture of political crisis and collapse.

Within this story there is talk of alleged corruption and cronyism – all of this the shit that has hit Stormont’s fan, and all of this the reason why political demands for a judge-led public inquiry are getting louder.

We don’t yet know the whole story, but there is the perception of something that not just smells but stinks.

That meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday afternoon, produced ‘word’ pellets that stoked a twitter fire.

This RHI story will play into and throughout the election. We are also witnessing a massive breakdown in political relations. 
The DUP and Sinn Fein are no longer living in the same Castle, and that breakdown could so easily become, if not a definitive divorce, then a long-term separation.

In the fallout, distraction tactics are being introduced into the pre-election debate – legacy as a re-writing of history and the scapegoating of soldiers.

So both the past and present will play large in the weeks to come.

What now as the follow-up, the next page, to this jaw-dropping, explosive, incredible and shocking day? 

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