March 24, 2017

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness resigns as Northern Ireland deputy first minister

11 January 2017, 12:34 | Rosie Arnold

Northern Ireland Brexit Confusion Worsens as McGuinness Resigns

Claire Simpson Arlene Foster has gone low in her response to RHI criticism

Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye DUP Leader Arlene Foster arrives at DUP head quarters in East Belfast on Tuesday, The day after Martin McGuinness resigned as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister in protest against the handling of a botched energy scheme that could cost taxpayers £490m.

"Over this period of the elections, both the British government and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) in my opinion have grievously undermined the institutions and have eroded public confidence".

Ms Foster, who became First Minister a year ago, was the minister in charge of the scheme at the time and has subsequently come under considerable criticism.

He insisted the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) furore was only one of many issues his party needed to be resolved before re-entering government with the DUP.

However if, as expected, Sinn Féin don't nominate a replacement for Mr McGuinness, elections are likely to be triggered in six days time.

"Arlene Foster is immediately calling upon the Unionist electorate not to be dictated to by Sinn Fein and is appealing to the sectarian instincts of unionists".

He had warned of "grave consequences" if Mrs Foster did not temporarily step aside to allow a fully independent inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the situation was of the DUP's making.

"I don't think the public in Northern Ireland will be impressed that those who they elected to do this job have failed so abysmally to sort out the normal business of government which they ought to be able to do as a matter of routine", Naomi Long told Premier.

"I have no doubt that if the election proceeds it will be a brutal election, it will be a very hard election", said Mrs Foster. Foster has said she did nothing wrong.

Politicians across all spectrums in Northern Ireland are facing the constitutional crisis after the resignation of former Provisional Irish Republican Army member McGuinness as deputy First Minister, triggering the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive. If the DUP were serious about addressing the political crisis then Arlene Foster would have stepped aside a month ago as Martin McGuinness suggested privately to her.

On June 5 2008 he was re-appointed as deputy First Minister to serve alongside Peter Robinson, who succeeded Paisley as First Minister.

"We've a very important election here to fight, we will have negotiations, I'll play my full role - hopefully with Martin McGuinness".

Foster was environment minister when the scheme was thrashed out.

"But I do believe it is imperative that a comprehensive, transparent, and impartial inquiry into the development and implantation of the scheme needs to be established as quickly as possible", Brokenshire said.

"It is clear that Sinn Fein's actions are not principled they are political".

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