Eastwood calls for Foster exclusion: ‘Never have I seen the public more angry’

Presseye.com 12th September  2016
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood adresses members of the press before  a meeting with the Secretary of State James Brokenshire on the importance of staying in the EU.
Photograph by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye
Presseye.com 12th September 2016 SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood adresses members of the press before a meeting with the Secretary of State James Brokenshire on the importance of staying in the EU. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye

First Minister Arlene Foster has launched a scathing attack on opposition parties after they tabled a motion calling for her exclusion from office.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood called on Sinn Fein to back the motion of no confidence in Arlene Foster.

Colum Eastwood called on the Assembly to “act to restore some faith that the collective good is worth fighting for” in the wake of the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal.

He said that the opposition parties were united in their stance.

“There is a reason for that unity and the DUP members would take well to take heed of it,” he said.

Speaking about the disgust of ordinary people, Mr Eastwood said: “Never have I seen our public more engaged and more angry about a single issue.

“Our community is united in anger and let it be recognised here today it is an anger that the public have every right to hold.

“This is the biggest public finance scandal ever to hit these institutions”.

He said it has suited some to try and muddy the waters, and said the issue of a potential £400m loss to local people must not be reduced to a fall out between former friends or a party split.

He questioned why the RHI model was altered from the British model when it was introduced in Northern Ireland, and referred to the fact that Ms Foster was in office as Enterprise Minister when the scheme was introduced.

“Whether the first Minister likes it or not this scandal starts with her,” he said.

“The continuation in office will further bring deadlock to an already failing Executive.

“The DUP leader won’t do the decent thing, the dignified thing and stand aside.

“Christmas will not save here.”

He also asked about the list of those who stand to benefit from the scheme and the delays in shutting it down.

“When will we get the names of the 984 applicants to this scheme made between September and November 2015?” Mr Eastwood said.

“I welcome that SF have moved on to similar ground to the opposition parties. I would genuinely urge SF members to come a little further.”

Vowing her party would defeat the motion, Ms Foster rounded on the opposition parties and claimed their actions were tantamount to a “kamikaze motion with no prospect of success” and was an attempt of a coup d’état “more worthy of a ‘Carry On’ film”.

“What people want is to get the problem sorted”, she said and claimed that the motion was more of a “fevered quest to build my political gallows” and an example of “shameful political opportunism”.