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Public meeting held to oppose Co Antrim power plant

A public meeting has been held by people keen to show their opposition for potential plans for a power station near Islandmagee, Co Antrim.

Gaelectric are the company behind the plans and have said that if it goes ahead, it could power up to 200,000 homes in the area, by storing energy in large caverns underground.

Some residents though are opposed to the plans and campaigners from Stop the Drill were at the meeting to show their opposition to an exploratory drill being implemented.

Cara McGimpsey has been to talk to both sides.

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Ó Muilleoir not stepping aside as Finance Minister

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir says he has no intention of stepping aside. Credit: UTV

Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said he will not be stepping aside as Finance Minister.

It follows calls from the Stormont Finance Committee - chaired by DUP's Emma Pengelly - for him to do so amid investigations into the ‘coaching’ scandal.

A majority of members voted to send a letter to the minister asking him to stand down from his ministerial role while an investigation by the Assembly's Commissioner for Standards takes place.

The sole Sinn Féin member present at the hearing - Caitríona Ruane - voted against the move.

The committee also asked Mr Ó Muilleoir – who has denied all involvement in the affair – to appear before them to answer questions.

"There is no basis for me to step aside as Finance Minister and I have absolutely no intention of doing so,” he said in a brief statement.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness reiterated his support for his colleague.

"Máirtín Ó Muilleoir enjoys my full support as Finance Minister and he will not be stepping aside on the basis of calls from opposition parties, much less calls from the DUP," he added.

McGuinness has ‘full confidence’ in Ó Muilleoir as Finance Minister

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Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has said Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has his “full confidence and support as Finance Minister”.

His comments come amid a scandal surrounding loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson’s appearance at a Stormont Finance Committee’s inquiry into the NAMA sale of a Northern Ireland property portfolio.

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, then chair of the committee, has resigned his position and been suspended from the party after he allegedly “coached” him before his appearance.

Mr McGuinness reiterated Mr Ó Muilleoir’s words that “attempts to link” him to the controversy are “no more than petty party politicking”.

He said: “Máirtín is engaged in vitally important work as Finance Minister in dealing with the real crises created by the referendum result and Tory austerity.

“Máirtín will continue with that important work."

The Finance Committee is meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss recent allegations made.

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Finance Committee to meet over NAMA Inquiry claims

The Finance Committee will meet at Stormont on Tuesday. Credit: Pacemaker

The Finance Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss recent allegations made about the conduct of former Chair Daithí McKay.

It has been alleged that Mr McKay ‘coached’ the NAMA Inquiry witness Jamie Bryson prior to his appearance before the committee.

The Finance Committee will convene at 10.30am to consider the allegations.

Ó Muilleoir 'no knowledge' of Bryson and McKay 'contact'

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said he had “absolutely no knowledge of any communications between Daithí McKay and Jamie Bryson”.

In a statement, the Sinn Féin MLA described “attempts to link” him to the 'coaching' controversy as “no more than petty party politicking”.

He said he would co-operate with any investigation.

Lord Morrow lodges complaint with Assembly watchdog

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DUP chairman Maurice Morrow has submitted a complaint about Daithi McKay to the Assembly Standards Commissioner founded on Stormont's code of conduct which binds Assembly members to act with integrity and not bring the body into disrepute.

Sinn Féin chief whip Carál Ní Chuilín said: "Sinn Féin welcomes the involvement of the Assembly Standards Commissioner and we will fully co-operate in any investigation.

"This investigation should be conducted swiftly and its conclusions expedited so that the facts are clearly established."

Sinn Féin will have to co-opt another party member to take over from former North Antrim assembly member Mr McKay within the next seven days to avoid triggering a by-election.

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