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Martin McGuinness: ‘This is not an orange and green issue, the arrogance over RHI is an insult to nationalists and unionists

By Noel McAdam

The scandal over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is not an "orange and green" issue, Martin McGuinness has insisted.

Writing exclusively for today's Belfast Telegraph, Mr McGuinness said Arlene Foster's attitude to the fiasco over recent weeks had insulted both unionists and nationalists. The veteran republican, who resigned as Deputy First Minister to force Mrs Foster out, also accused the DUP of playing "fast and loose" with the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

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"Sinn Fein will not tolerate the arrogance of the DUP any longer," he said. "It is time to call time."

A frail-looking Mr McGuiness dramatically announced his resignation on Monday, arguing he had to stand down to force Mrs Foster from office.

"I advised Arlene Foster to step aside, without prejudice, to allow a preliminary investigation to take place. She refused to do this," he explained.

"That is why I felt it necessary to resign as Deputy First Minister, thereby removing her from office, so that the people can now have their say.

"This is not an orange and green issue, despite attempts by some to paint it as such.

"The arrogance of Arlene Foster with regard to the RHI scheme was an insult not only to nationalists, but unionists who are appalled by the approach of the DUP."

Mr McGuinness also reiterated that Sinn Fein's anger went beyond the RHI scheme and included prejudice against the Irish language and a lack of respect for minorities including the LGBT community.

"The DUP acted with disrespect and at times bigotry towards the Irish language, blocking an Irish language Act and withdrawing funding," the former Deputy First Minister said.

"They also showed no regard for the identity, traditions and symbols of the nationalist and republican people.

"No serious attempt was made to reciprocate the initiatives around reconciliation that I and others within Sinn Fein took."

Mr McGuiness also hit out at successive London governments, which he said had "also failed in their responsibilities to the Good Friday and other agreements".

"There needs to be a change in approach from political unionism and the British Government if the institutions are to function in a spirit of genuine partnership government," he warned.

The former Deputy First Minister also urged the Irish government "to step up to the mark and act as guarantors" for equality and parity of esteem.

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