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Lord Morrow Denies Bell ‘Cover Up’ Claim

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

DUP PARTY Chair Lord Morrow MLA has staunchly rejected claims made by party colleague Jonathan Bell MLA in a televised interview as his Party Leader Arlene Foster yesterday faced a vote of no confidence in a day of drama at the Assembly.

Discussing the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal that looks set to cost the taxpayer £400 million over the next two decades, the Strangford representative claimed that he was made to extend the scheme by Arlene Foster.

He also claimed that he expressed his concerns in writing to First Minister Arlene Foster, deputy party leader Nigel Dodds MP and party Chairman Lord Morrow MLA.

However, speaking to the Courier, Maurice Morrow acknowledged that he received correspondence from Mr Bell but claimed that his accusation of a cover up from the then Office of First and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) was unfounded.

"An email from Jonathan Bell was sent making allegations that there was an attempt to remove references to OFMdFM from departmental records.

This was not the case," said Lord Morrow.

"However, the party have investigated that matter. During the investigation it was clear that a reference in a draft Ministerial submission highlighted the role of OFMdFM in asking for the scheme to be closed earlier than the DETI Minister had proposed was removed.

"I understand this material has now been published by the Department for the Economy.

"Given that DUP Officers have now suspended Mr Bell, it would be inappropriate to say anything further at this time."

Meanwhile, the heat has been turned up further on First Minister Arlene Foster.

The Stormont Assembly was recalled yesterday, Monday, to hear from the First Minister. However, prior to meeting, the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness confirmed that the Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative's speech was not approved by the Executive Office.

This led to the extraordinary situation of criticism of the Speaker Robin Newton MLA from the majority of the chamber and two walkouts from every party in the Assembly but the DUP within an hour.

At the time of going to press, Mrs Foster was facing a vote of no confidence.

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