DUP suspends senior party member Jonathan Bell after comments about Arlene Foster

DUP suspends senior party member Jonathan Bell  after comments about Arlene Foster
Jonathan Bell

Senior Democratic Unionist Jonathan Bell has been suspended from the party.

It followed the former Stormont enterprise, trade and investment minister's outspoken comments about leader Arlene Foster's handling of a green energy incentive scheme which critics predict will overspend by £400m.

DUP party officers met over the weekend and a spokesman confirmed the Strangford Assembly member's suspension was unanimously agreed.

On Monday the Assembly will discuss a vote of no confidence in the First Minister.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has asked her to step aside to allow a probe into allegations surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

The row threatening the peace-building institutions has erupted over the controversial green energy scheme - set up by Mrs Foster - which paid out subsidies well in excess of the costs of buying renewable fuel.

Claims of widespread abuse include a farmer allegedly set to pocket around £1m in the next 20 years for heating an empty shed.

The "cash for ash" scandal reached fever pitch when Mr Bell broke ranks to level a series of explosive claims against his leader Mrs Foster and party advisers.

In an extraordinary TV interview, a tearful Mr Bell said God told him to come clean as he claimed a "highly agitated and angry" Mrs Foster demanded he keep the RHI open for an extra fortnight despite its huge losses.


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