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Another election imminent as McGuinness resigns as Deputy First Minister

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Another election imminent as McGuinness resigns as Deputy First Minister thumbnailMartin McGuinness

WITH yesterday's resignation of Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness from the Northern Ireland Assembly, another general election now looks imminent.

Mr McGuinness stepped down from the role he has occupied since 2007 in protest at the handling of the botched Renewable Heating Incentive scheme.

It has been estimated that the scandal could cost tax payers in the region of half a billion pounds.

Speaking yesterday, the Foyle MLA said that the DUP had failed to grasp the level of public anger at the money which had been squandered, and spoke about the "arrogance" of Mrs Foster in dealing with the matter.

If a political resolution cannot be found within seven days, then there will be a six-week period during which time the Secretary of State James Brokenshire will determine the date of an election.

Until an election is called all Ministers, including the First and Deputy First Minister and MLAs will remain in post in a care and maintenance capacity.

Several local politicians gave their views to the Democrat on the momentous news, and the prospect of another election just eight months after the public last went to the polls.

Jim Wells, DUP MLA for South Down stated that he will certainly have no difficulty in standing for election again.

“If an election is called as a result of today's announcement then so be it," said Mr Wells.

“I have put my name before the people of South Down for 22 years and if selected, I will stand again should there be a poll this year.

“Arlene Foster won't be standing down at the behest of Sinn Fein. We will support an inquiry, we will release the details of all those who have received RHI payments and we will introduce a scheme to recoup the overpayments."

Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist Assembly Member Danny Kennedy described the situation as a "full blown political crisis."

“The electorate will feel angry and frustrated at this outcome of events," said Mr Kennedy.

“It is hard to see how an election can be justified after the failure of the two largest parties but the UUP doesn't fear one.

“What we needed was a common sense approach with Mrs Foster stepping aside so a full public inquiry, led by a Judge, could take place into the RHI debacle."

The Newry Democrat contacted both Sinn Fein and the SDLP for comment, but none was forthcoming at the time of going to press last night (Monday).

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