Foster Orange

First Minister Arlene Foster on a visit to Scotland.

‘A monumental work of solid reportage, measured, elegant and thorough . . . an exemplary work of journalism. If politicians had maintained their standards with a similar responsibility, this book would not have needed to be written.’
Malachi O’Doherty, journalist and author


The Inside Story of the ‘Cash-for-Ash’ Scandal and Northern Ireland’s Secretive New Elite


Sam McBride is the Political Editor of the Belfast News Letter, one of Northern Ireland’s daily newspapers, and the Northern Ireland political editor of the i newspaper in London, having begun his career a decade ago at the Belfast Telegraph. He is a regular presence on regional and national radio and television in the UK and Ireland.



One of the most shocking scandals in Northern Irish political history: originally a green-energy initiative, the Renewal Heat Incentive (RHI) or ‘cash-for-ash’ scheme saw Northern Ireland’s government pay £1.60 for every £1 of fuel the public burned in their wood-pellet boilers, leading to widespread abuse and ultimately the collapse of the power-sharing administration at Stormont.

Revealing the wild incompetence of the Northern Ireland civil service and the ineptitude and serious abuses of power by some of those at the head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), now propping up Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government and a major factor in the Brexit negotiations, this scandal exposed not only some of Northern Ireland’s most powerful figures but revealed problems that go to the very heart of how NI is governed.

A riveting political thriller from the journalist who covered the controversy for over two years, Burned is the inside story of the shocking scandal that brought down a government.

Paperback • €18.95 / £16.99 • 418 pages •  234 mm x 156 mm • 9781785372698

Advance Praise for Burned

‘One of the most important books on Northern Ireland politics since the Good Friday Agreement; and certainly the most important on the Assembly and the function – and dysfunction – of devolution. Disturbingly revelatory.’

Alex Kane, columnist and commentator

‘Superbly researched and explained with clarity and precision. Sam McBride’s book should be required reading for those working in the public and private sectors far beyond Northern Ireland as a manual on how not to run major projects and how not to govern a society.’

Mark Devenport, political journalist and broadcaster

‘This is one of the most important books in the history of Northern Ireland. To devastating effect, it sets out the path of RHI, a scandal that highlights profound problems with how we are governed in the 21st century.’

Ben Lowry, deputy editor, News Letter

‘An intriguing forensic examination of the RHI scandal which brought down Stormont. It should be an essential textbook for politicians, advisers and the Civil Service. Sam McBride’s book clearly points out this must never happen again if faith in politics is to be restored.’

Ken Reid, UTV Political Editor

‘Unlike the RHI legislation she introduced, I hope Arlene Foster actually reads this. Sam McBride brilliantly untangles the facts about RHI to reveal a jaw-dropping and occasionally hilarious omnishambles. The author has taken the fiendishly complex RHI scandal and made it both comprehensible and shocking. If I were a civil servant, or a DUP spad or worked at Moy Park I would demand that all copies of this book were burnt in a 99kw wood pellet boiler.’

Tim McGarry, comedian

‘As Brexit dominates politics in Westminster and Dublin, Sam McBride’s lucid and compelling account of the nightmarish reality of devolution in Northern Ireland shows us that there will be no easy solutions in Belfast. This triumph of investigative journalism from one of the UK’s most important reporters spares nobody. Anybody who wishes to understand how the DUP and Sinn Féin’s great experiment failed should read it – not that they will want you to.’

Patrick Maguire, Political Correspondent, New Statesman
‘The RHI scandal played a significant role in bringing Northern Ireland’s experiment in devolution to its knees. Future historians will ask how did this happen? Sam McBride’s book will be their first port of call. He has been at the heart of the journalistic coverage of this crisis and it shows in every page.’

Lord Bew, historian and Emeritus Professor of Irish politics at Queen’s University, Belfast
 ‘This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the Stormont institutions were brought down by a scandal of enormous proportions. It clearly, coldly and comprehensively sets out a series of astonishing events involving incredible sums of public money and deserves to be studied by all those interested in our political process.’
Noel Doran, editor, The Irish News

‘One of Belfast’s most authoritative journalists has produced a fascinating and
detailed account of one of the city’s most controversial episodes.’
David McKittrick, journalist and author

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