Updated: 20/01/17 : 07:01:33
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Stormont adviser resigns over 'Cash for Ash' scheme

A senior Stormont adviser who formerly worked with Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has quit amid allegations of exerting influence around the botched 'ash for ash' scheme.

DUP special adviser Andrew Crawford's resignation was announced minutes after a public inquiry was instigated into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

The RHI scandal, which has left Stormont facing a 490 million bill, was the trigger for the collapse of the power-sharing executive in Belfast.

Dr Crawford stood down 24 hours after he was named by a senior civil servant as the DUP adviser he believed was pressing to delay RHI cost controls.

The development came on another dramatic day in the Northern Ireland political world, with Sinn Fein veteran Martin McGuinness announcing his decision to quit front-line politics to focus on his health.

Dr Crawford said his resignation was an "appropriate" response to the allegations against him, claiming he did not want to be a "distraction".

But he insisted the public inquiry would prove he "acted with complete integrity".

"I am conscious I have become the focus of the story," he said.

He added: "I will be happy to give a full account of all of my actions during this period to the inquiry and for due process to take its course."

The state-funded RHI was supposed to offer a proportion of the cost businesses had to pay to run eco-friendly boilers, but the subsidy tariffs were set too high and without a cap, so it ended up paying out significantly more than the price of fuel. See link below

This enabled applicants to "burn to earn", getting free heat and making a profit as they did so.

Link: Sligo Today 16/1/2017