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Deputy First Minister McGuinness resigns as election draws nearer

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Deputy First Minister McGuinness resigns as election draws nearer thumbnailDeputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has resigned.

NORTHERN Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has dramatically resigned over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal.

Mr McGuinness tendered his resignation yesterday afternoon, Monday, with a Stormont election now looking more and more likely.

In his resignation letter submitted to Speaker Robin Newton, Martin McGuinness said: "It is my firm view that the DUP's handling of this issue has been completely out of step with a public mood which is rightly outraged.

"The public are demanding robust action and accountability but the DUP, in particular its leader Arlene Foster, have refused to accept this.

"She has a clear conflict of interest and should have no Executive role in overseeing how this will be rectified.

"In the available period Sinn Fein will not nominate to the position of Deputy First Minister. We now need an election to allow the people to make their own judgement on these issues democratically at the ballot box."

His resignation call came as First Minister Arlene Foster spoke of the RHI scandal and her decision not to stand down.

Speaking to the Tyrone Courier, the First Minister acknowledged that it was important an independent investigation takes place and that cost saving measures, if there are any, can be found.

"Let me be clear, I will not be standing aside," said Foster. "I am not guilty of any wrong doing. Many have indeed called for me to step aside and in fact resign.

“The UUP for example want me to resign before any investigation is completed, so much for due process.

“While others speak through the media with a lot of bluster and use utter hyperbole to spin the facts of the RHI scheme, I am working to deal with the matter in hand.

"That is what leadership is about. I am not going to roll over to calls for me to step aside, from an organisation which tried to kill my father and planted a bomb on my school bus.  

"I am not going to take direction from Sinn Fein or any other party, I take my directions from the electorate."

Health Minister, Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill MLA last week backed Martin McGuinness' call for the First Minister to "stand aside, without prejudice, until the publication of a preliminary report of an independent investigation into the RHI scandal".

Similar calls have been made by SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, who also accused Sinn Fein of "rolling over" by not pushing Foster harder.

However, Mid-Ulster DUP MLA Keith Buchanan has expressed his unequivocal backing for party leader Arlene Foster.

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