Stormont crisis: Martin McGuinness says he will not resign, refers to Ian Paisley
Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness warned on Friday that the Democratic Unionist Party will lose if they provoke early elections.
Mr McGuinness appealed to all unionist parties to engage in talks to salvage the power-sharing structures which are now on the brink of total collapse.
The Deputy First Minister evoked the memory of the late Ian Paisley – on the eve of the first anniversary of the DUP founder’s death.
The Sinn Fein leader said he had worked with Mr Paisley for a full year of his own eight-year term as joint head of the Stormont government.
“Whatever else he did, he never doubted my own commitment to peace. And I never doubted his,” Mr McGuinness told reporters at his party’s think-in in Co Meath.
He insisted that the DUP did not want early elections because they would lose ground to rival unionist groups.
He also said he will not resign as Deputy First Minister, and that there is a window of four to six weeks to avoid the need for a new election.
Both Mr McGuinness and party leader Gerry Adams committed themselves to the all-party talks next week aimed at staving off yet another threat to the Northern Ireland’s power-sharing institutions.
The DUP and rival Ulster Unionist Party have pulled back from government. This followed the month-long controversy about comments by the PSNI Chief Constable that the Provisional IRA still exists and that former IRA personnel were involved in two murders in Belfast earlier this summer.
Mr McGuinness said it was ironic that “low-life criminals,” who engaged in two murders, now threatened the Northern Ireland’s peace structures. He said unionists had done and said nothing about serious criminal acts and attacks by loyalist groups.
Gerry Adams was also scathingly critical of what he called Taoiseach’ Enda Kenny’s “inaction – followed by half-assed, sticking-plaster intervention” in the peace process. “He’s the Taoiseach – he’s not just the leader of Fine Gael,” Mr Adams said.
The Sinn Fein leader was asked to comment on Mr Kenny’s assertion that he would serve a full second term if re-elected. Did Mr Adams believe that Sinn Fein would do better with a new leader?
Before he could answer, Martin McGuinness interjected: “He’s younger than the Pope.”