Me­chanic crushed to death by car he was re­pair­ing

Heart­break as Ty­rone 26-year-old leaves a part­ner and baby girl be­hind

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEONA O’NEILL

A YOUNG fa­ther has died trag­i­cally in Co Ty­rone af­ter a car fell on him.

Me­chanic Richard Har­ron (26) was found by his fa­ther on Mon­day af­ter the ve­hi­cle he was work­ing on crushed him. He leaves be­hind a part­ner, Lind­sey (left, with Richard), and baby Emma. A fam­ily friend said: “It’s an aw­ful time, I’m heart­bro­ken.”

THE chair­man of the pub­lic in­quiry into the con­tro­ver­sial Re­new­able Heat­ing In­cen­tive scheme (RHI) yes­ter­day ques­tioned why a ma­jor Gov­ern­ment depart­ment failed to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive an­swers to a se­ries of de­tailed ques­tions.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion team sent a re­quest to the Depart­ment for Busi­ness, En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy (BEIS), which over­sees sim­i­lar schemes in the rest of the UK.

How­ever, re­tired Court of Ap­peal judge Sir Patrick Cogh­lin (right) was in­formed that de­spite be­ing sent a list of 14 ques­tions in a 30-page doc­u­ment, BEIS of­fi­cials only pro­vided a four-page let­ter and two small an­nexes of in­for­ma­tion in re­sponse .

Yes­ter­day’s ses­sion of the in­quiry at Stor­mont, which be­gan last week, heard the in­ves­ti­ga­tion team was try­ing to find out how much con­tact of­fi­cials in North­ern Ire­land had with their coun­ter­parts in the rest of the UK.

While the in­quiry has the power to com­pel de­part­ments here, it does not have any ju­ris­dic­tion over de­part­ments in Bri­tain, which co-op­er­ate on a vol­un­there tary ba­sis. Joseph Aiken, ju­nior coun­sel to the in­quiry, con­tended that the brief re­sponse from BEIS was an in­di­ca­tion they had no record of any com­mu­ni­ca­tion with North­ern Ire­land of­fi­cials.

Sir Patrick said: “So the re­sponse we get from an English depart­ment here was not to an­swer any of the ques­tions in order or in de­tail and to say that they don’t have any records.”

In re­sponse, Mr Aiken said was an email trail lo­cated in the Depart­ment of the Econ­omy at Stor­mont, but it did not in­clude records that might ex­ist in BEIS. There­fore a de­tailed anal­y­sis of the ma­te­rial couldn’t be com­pleted “as it’s just not there”.

Mr Aiken also told the ses­sion there were six ques­tions for the in­quiry over con­tact with of­fi­cials in the rest of the UK. These asked:

• Why North­ern Ire­land hadn’t adopted the Great Bri­tain scheme like Scot­land

• If of­fi­cials here had started a lo­calised ver­sion of the scheme

• What checks were in place to learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence of the scheme in Great Bri­tain

• What mech­a­nisms were in place to mon­i­tor pub­lic an­nounce­ments about changes to the scheme in Great Bri­tain, and • What was done with in­for­ma­tion re­ceived from of­fi­cials in Bri­tain, was it an­a­lysed and who de­cided if this in­for­ma­tion was re­ferred up­wards to min­is­te­rial level.

Mr Aiken said it was rea­son­able to sug­gest that Ar­lene Foster, who was Enterprise Min­is­ter in 2012, should have been told of plans to in­tro­duce cost con­trols into the scheme in Bri­tain.

He also re­ferred to a memo from Depart­ment of Enterprise Trade and In­dus­try (DETI) en­ergy of­fi­cial Olivia Martin to her col­league Jenny Pyper about a North­ern Ire­land sub­mis­sion to the UK En­ergy Strat­egy.

Ms Martin wrote: “We stated we would pro­vide a pos­i­tive para­graph for in­clu­sion in re­la­tion to North­ern Ire­land on heat. I’m find­ing it hard to find some­thing pos­i­tive to say on heat.”

An­other memo from Ms Martin to Ms Pyper raised by Mr Aiken floated the ques­tion of what Mrs Foster was be­ing told by DETI of­fi­cials.

In it Ms Martin said that when she “put up the sub­mis­sion to the min­is­ter” about the Depart­ment for Busi­ness, Enterprise and Reg­u­la­tory Re­form’s early ideas on a re­new­able heat in­cen­tive, they had re­moved a num­ber of para­graphs.

These in­cluded one headed “re­sources” and in­cluded the words: “DETI can­not hope to devel- op this area of work with cur­rent re­sources.”

A sur­prised Sir Patrick said he could not un­der­stand why DETI of­fi­cials did not tell their min­is­ter or the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary about their lack of re­sources to cope with im­ple­ment­ing an en­ergy pol­icy.

He added that he wanted an ex­pla­na­tion as to why peo­ple who could help with al­lo­cat­ing such re­sources were not told about it.

Mr Aiken said staffing and other re­sources at DETI “would not come re­motely close” to the lev­els avail­able at the depart­ment that set up RHI schemes in Bri­tain, and that is why North­ern Ire­land should never have em­barked on set­ting up its own sys­tem.

The in­quiry con­tin­ues today.

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