Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You are all very welcome to this the first public hearing of the Independent Public Inquiry into the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme (‘the Inquiry’). My name is Patrick Coghlin and I retired as a judge of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland in the summer of 2015. At the end of January 2017 I agreed to chair the RHI Inquiry.
I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Inquiry, to summarise who we are, what we have done to date, and how we are going to operate in order to complete the task set for us by the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.
This is a public inquiry established under the Inquiries Act 2005. It was set up by a Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, exercising powers under that Act, because of the level of public concern about the operation of, and consequences arising from, the RHI Scheme. As the name “public inquiry” suggests, an inquiry of this nature is carried out in the public interest and on behalf of the public. Accordingly, it is important that the RHI Inquiry endeavours, as far as it is practicable to do so, to keep the public informed as to our work and the progress we are making in our investigations. The recent launch of the Inquiry’s website, and the holding of this Preliminary Hearing, represent part of that endeavour.