Stormont in crisis

Thursday, 12 January 2017

LOCAL politicians have been reacting to the news that Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has resigned from his post over the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Mr McGuinness who revealed he was tendering his resignation "with deep regret and reluctance" said DUP leader Arlene Foster could have no Executive role during the ongoing RHI investigation.

His resignation - which came into effect from 5pm yesterday (Monday) - will undoubtedly trigger a fresh election, if a political resolution cannot be found within seven days.

If that is the case, it moves to 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.

Speculation is already mounting that Mr McGuinness' replacement could be the sitting Sinn Fein Newry and Armagh MLA, Conor Murphy, who has previously held the Ministerial post of Regional Development Minister.

Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist Assembly Member Danny Kennedy has 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."

Meanwhile, Newry and Armagh DUP Assembly Member William Irwin believes matters at the base of this debate are "fully resolvable and the DUP will not rest until a resolution is reached".

“I unequivocally support my party leader and colleague Arlene Foster MLA and stand firmly behind her, as indeed do my party colleagues," Mr Irwin said.

At the time of going to press the SDLP and Sinn Fein were unavailable for comment.


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