Burned: The story behind the North’s ‘cash-for-ash’ scandal

Book review: ‘Rank dysfunctionality’ is Sam McBride’s verdict on the Renewable Heating debacle

A laptop in  Stormont’s parliament buildings in Belfast showing a live feed of the DUP leader Arlene Foster giving evidence to the RHI inquiry. Photograph:  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A laptop in Stormont’s parliament buildings in Belfast showing a live feed of the DUP leader Arlene Foster giving evidence to the RHI inquiry. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

This is a magnificent book by one of Ireland’s finest journalists. It is a shocking work, and raises profound and troubling questions about the future of government in Northern Ireland. It is also, for all that it inevitably has to dwell on boilers, sheds, and civil servants, an absolute page-turner.

Sam McBride’s forensic investigation into the scandal of the Renewable Heating Initiative (RHI) becomes a devastating exposé of the political dynamics and moral culture of the regime at Stormont during the years of mandatory powersharing between the DUP and Sinn Féin. His verdict? “Rank dysfunctionality.” The reader is left appalled. Hope and history do not rhyme in this saga of what McBride calls at one point “feckless profligacy – or worse”.

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