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Martin McGuinness resigns: Sinn Fein’s actions are not principled they are political, says Arlene Foster

By Claire Williamson

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said she is "disappointed" that Martin McGuinness has resigned as deputy First Minister - and blasted Sinn Fein's actions as "not principled" but "political".

The Sinn Fein MLA quit on Monday over Arlene Foster's refusal to stand aside during an investigation into the failed Renewable Heating Incentive.

The move by Mr McGuinness under the structure of Stormont's Executive Office also forces Mrs Foster from office.

A First Minister cannot hold the position without a co-equal deputy First Minister.

Mr McGuinness said Mrs Foster's refusal to show humility over the scandal was "indicative of a deep seated arrogance which is inflicting enormous damage on the Executive, the Assembly and the entire body politic".

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He said it was with "deep regret and reluctance" he was tendering his resignation as of 5pm.

He said the party would not nominate a replacement.

"We now need an election to allow the people to make their own judgement on these issues democratically at the ballot box," he said.

Reacting Mrs Foster said in a statement: "I am disappointed that Martin McGuinness has chosen to take the position he has today.

"His actions have meant that, at precisely the time we need our Government to be active, we will have no government and no way to resolve the RHI problems.

"It is clear that Sinn Fein’s actions are not principled they are political.

"Let me make it clear the DUP will always defend unionism and stand up for what is best for Northern Ireland and it appears from the Deputy First Minister’s resignation letter that is what annoys Sinn Fein the most.”

Mr McGuinness' resignation paves the way to a snap election.

After seven days with no renomination for the position, Secretary of State James Brokenshire has a “reasonable” period of time to call the election.

Under the legislation an election should then follow six weeks later.

Mr Brokenshire said: "We will do all that we can to help the parties find a resolution in the coming days.

“There is a clear process set out regarding what happens next.  Unless Sinn Fein nominates a replacement to the position of deputy First Minister within the next seven days, it is incumbent upon me to call an Assembly election within a reasonable period.

“I would urge Northern Ireland’s political leaders to take the necessary steps to work together to find a way forward and I will work with all parties and the Irish government to this end.”

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