The Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir today outlined the details of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Inquiry including the Inquiry Chair and its terms of reference.
The Minister said: “I now have in place an independent Inquiry Chair, distinguished retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Patrick Coghlin, who was nominated to chair the Inquiry by the Lord Chief Justice. I am very pleased Sir Patrick has agreed to lead the Inquiry and I know that he will be unflinching in his pursuit of the truth and scrupulous in his analysis of the evidence.
“The independent investigation will have the powers to compel witnesses and evidence and I pledge that as minister I will ensure the inquiry is free of ministerial control or interference. I call on all parties to make a similar pledge in relation to any future Finance Minister.
“There is an urgent need to get to the facts of the RHI Scheme, to identify negligence, incompetence, alleged corruption and abuse, and to hold those responsible to account.
“I am aware that the RHI issue goes beyond financial matters to questions of governance and probity. By getting to the truth of the RHI scandal, this inquiry team, led by the distinguished Sir Patrick Coghlin will, I believe, address those wider issues, and, therefore, go some way to rebuilding the shattered public confidence in the institutions.”
The work will get underway on 1st February and will report as expeditiously as possible. The Minister’s oral statement and the Inquiry Terms of Reference are available on the Department of Finance website.
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4. Sir Patrick Coghlin was educated at Queen’s University, Belfast and Cambridge University. He was appointed to the High Court in 1997 having been called to the Bar in 1970 and taken silk in 1985. In addition to being the Senior Queen’s Bench judge, he was President of the Lands Tribunal. Sir Patrick was Chairman of the General Council of the Bar from 1991- 1993 and was Senior Crown Counsel from 1993-1997. Prior to his appointment to the senior Queen’s Bench position, he was the judge in charge of the Commercial Division of the High Court. He was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2008 and was appointed to the Privy Council in 2009. He retired in 2015.