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Northern Ireland deputy leader Martin McGuinness resigns amid political crisis

© Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP | Archival picture shows Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in front of 10 Downing Street, London on October 24, 2016

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-01-10

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned from his post on Monday in protest over differences with his power-sharing government partners.

The nationalist (Sinn Féin party) deputy leader resigned in protest at his power-sharing government partners' handling of a botched energy scheme (known as the 'Renewable Heat Incentive').

His resignation plunged Northern Ireland's government into crisis amid already deep tensions with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

In a letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly, he said that Sinn Fein intends to trigger early elections.

The government, formed in 2007 under the terms of Northern Ireland's Good Friday peace agreement, requires support from Sinn Fein and the major Unionist-backed party, the DUP, to survive.

Calls on First Minister Foster to resign

McGuinness's Sinn Fein party had called on First Minister Arlene Foster of the DUP to step aside while an investigation takes place into the controversial scheme it says could cost taxpayers £490 million.

McGuinness argued that Foster has a "clear conflict of interest" in the RHI scandal and her position is "not credible or tenable".

"The First Minister has refused to stand aside. Therefore it is with deep regret and reluctance that I am tendering my resignation as deputy First Minister. We now need an election to allow the people to make their own judgement," McGuinness said in a statement.

Foster has faced repeated calls to resign.

McGuinness added in his resignation letter, “Apart from the negative attitude toward nationalism and to the Irish identity and culture, there has been a shameful disrespect towards any other sections of our community,”

"Women, the LGBT community and ethnic minorities have all felt this prejudice. And for those who wish to live their lives through the medium of Irish. Elements in the DUP have exhibited the most crude and crass bigotry," he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2017-01-09

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