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Martin McGuiness resigns: What people are saying on the streets of Northern Ireland

Martin McGuiness's shock resignation as Deputy First Minister left many on both sides of Belfast's peace lines rolling their eyes at the thought of a second Stormont election in under a year.

Five of the seven people we spoke to on the nationalist Falls Road said Mr McGuinness made the right choice to go, with two disagreeing.

On the unionist Shankill Road, four said they wanted Mr McGuinness to stay, while three welcomed the news.

Speaking in a cafe on the Falls yesterday, Edward Keatings (54) from Ballymurphy said: "I think he's stupid for resigning.

"The Arlene Foster thing is nothing to do with him. I think she should step aside for the investigation."

Just outside, Aiden Crothers (19) said he supported the resignation. "I don't think anyone round this area likes Arlene Foster at all, if there was another election I think most people would be happy," he said.

John Loughrin (42) said: "I think it's about time Sinn Fein stood their ground with Arlene Foster. She was ignoring everybody calling for her to resign. A new election has to happen, there needs to be an investigation into her role."

Kate Sullivan (27), who has just moved to the Falls Road from Australia, said she found the situation ludicrous.

"As an outsider it all sounds a bit stupid to me. They've only just got elected and now they'll have to do it all again," she said.

Roseleen O'Connor (69), also from the Falls, said: "I think the real reason Martin McGuinness is stepping down is because he's not well."

Ann Morrison (65) said: "I don't know what they're going to do. I think Arlene needs to look at herself and sort it out, especially with all this about the 'pink love glasses'."

Marguerite Gallagher, in her 60s, said: "It's very sad. Martin's wise, he knows what he's doing, whether it is a wee bit about his health and a wee bit about the situation. The election will happen but won't cost Sinn Fein any votes."

On the Shankill Margaret Doggart (59) said: "Martin McGuinness is a good man, he should have stayed. I say throw Arlene Foster out, I could do a better job as First Minister."

Sandra McArthur (65) said: "I really don't fancy another election. I think Martin McGuinness should have waited. Let an investigation happen and let Arlene Foster go after that if she was in the wrong. I think he's put the cart before the horse." Agnes Haire (74) said: "That's all we need. He could have stuck it out to see how it went."

Norman Kavanagh (56) said: "I think it's been blown out of proportion. I know the heating scandal cost money but another inquiry will just cost more."

Mark Busby (48) said he wanted both leaders to go: "I think it's time he went anyway, that era is over." Haley Campbell (24) said: "He should have stayed on with her to help sort this heating scandal out. I didn't vote for Arlene Foster last time, I actually voted for the other side because they do more for us."

Thomas Brown (42) said: "He made the right call to go. And for Arlene Foster with this heating scandal, I think she's in trouble."

By Allan Preston

Londonderry

On the streets of Londonderry — Martin McGuinness’s home city and constituency — the news that he had resigned as Deputy First Minister was viewed as the right thing to do.

The Belfast Telegraph spoke to people in Guildhall Square shortly after Mr McGuinness announced his resignation over the RHI scandal.

Avital Weiss thinks the door is now open for change.

“I think it is time for a change and it opens the door now for something to happen in the long run,” she said.

“I’m not sure if it was the right thing or not, but he has been doing this long enough and has enough advisers around him that I am sure they believe it is right.

“I think that if you care about the bigger picture and less about your own position then you are going to take action.”

Making his way across the square was John Kelly, whose brother Michael was killed on Bloody Sunday. He agreed with Mr McGuinness’s decision.

Mr Kelly said: “I think it was inevitable that Martin McGuinness would resign. Over this past while, Arlene Foster has been fairly arrogant in her stance in relation to the whole RHI debacle. If she had any feeling for the people of the north, she would have stepped aside long ago.

“I think Martin McGuinness had no other option but I do not think there will be any benefit to an election, but at the end of the day it is something that had to happen.”

Eileen Curran has been watching the RHI story develop over the past few weeks and she too agreed with actions of Mr McGuinness.

She said: “It is ultimately going to be the ordinary people who will suffer over this whole thing and I do think Martin McGuinness was probably right in resigning. It will bring things to a head and that’s what needs to happen so we can find answers to all the questions.

“But as for an election, I don’t think that is going to make any difference.”

Bill McFarland shared Ms Curran’s opinion on the value of another election and also thought Mr McGuinness’s resignation was just the latest move in politicking between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

He said:“I think the two parties are just playing politics with this country and that’s basically it. The whole thing has been handled very badly. It is going to cost the tax payer nearly £500m.

“They should have admitted their mistakes and now we are going to have an election which will be a waste of money and time.

“You will get the same idiots elected and we will be right back where were started. 

“Having said that, if there is another election, I will vote but I am not saying who for.”

However, Sarah Doherty admitted she wasn’t going to bother voting. “I am shocked that Martin McGuinness has resigned. Arlene Foster wasn’t going to resign, that was for sure, so I suppose he had to do something. I’ve seen her on the TV and she doesn’t come across as a very nice person,” she said.

“I didn’t vote in May because I was that sickened by the whole lot of them and I won’t go out and vote if there is another election,” she added.

By Donna Deeney

Belfast Telegraph

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