RHI inquiry chairman denies report’s timing was an attempt to ‘bury bad news’

Sir Patrick Coghlin has denied the decision to publish his RHI inquiry report on a Friday afternoon was a bid to bury bad news.

The inquiry chairman said it was the only day the findings could be launched because of other business at the venue, Stormont’s Parliament Buildings.

“We could have launched the report elsewhere but we considered it important and appropriate that the launch occur here, at Stormont.”

He addressed the reason for picking a Friday afternoon to release the findings, “not least because of public speculation, all of which is wrong, that the timing of this launch has been in some way contrived in order to ‘bury bad news’ at the start of a holiday weekend”.

All of the inquiry’s public hearings took place at Stormont and much of its work involved scrutiny of how devolved government based there had operated.

Sir Patrick added: “Some may have preferred it if we had launched the report elsewhere.

“However, as I have said, we were convinced that the launch should occur in this building for the reasons I have mentioned.”

He said one panel member was unable to make the original morning launch target time due to a prior commitment and the timing of flights.

“I would like to emphasise that this launch event, the statement I am currently making, and how they might synchronise with the news cycle should not be the focus of attention.

“What I am about to say is just a short summary of some of the work of the inquiry.

“Rather, it is the content of our report, the evidence summarised in it, and its detailed findings and recommendations that are of central importance.”

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