Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein confirms it will not nominate a deputy First Minister on Monday

Sinn Fein MLA Michelle O'Neill has confirmed her party will not nominate a deputy First Minister on Monday.

The party have until 5pm on Monday to nominate a deputy First Minister or the Assembly will collapse.

Former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned last Monday after outgoing First Minister Arlene Foster ignored his advice to her to step aside while an independent investigation into the ‘cash for ash’ scandal takes place.

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

Martin McGuinness resignation letter: Reading between the lines - what he meant

Ms Foster criticised the move, claiming: "His actions have meant that at precisely the time when we need our government to be active, we will have no government and no obvious way to resolve the RHI problems."

Arlene Foster says Sinn Fein actions 'not principled, they are political' 

On Sunday night Ms O'Neill confirmed that Sinn Fein will not be re-nominating for the position of deputy First minister on Monday, and called for an election to allow the people to have their say.

She has expressed discontent not only with the DUP, but also with the British Government over the vote in last year's referendum to withdraw from the European Union.

“For over ten years Martin McGuinness has worked to ensure that the institutions in the North delivered for all the people," she said. 

"During that time, he has faced threats and disrespect. But he persevered, working with three successive DUP leaders, because it was the right thing to do.

“The actions of the British government over this period in failing to honour their agreements and imposing Tory policy, austerity, and Brexit against the will of the people undermined the political process."

She also lashed out at the Irish Government, claiming they have "consigned themselves to the role of onlooker and presented themselves as some sort of impartial referee".

"That is a fundamental mistake," she said. 

"They are the custodians of the agreements that are being hollowed out on their watch and that has compounded the current crisis.

“Against this background the DUP has failed to live up to their responsibilities to represent all in the community and to promote equality and respect."

Ms O'Neill said the cash for ash scandal as eroded confidence in the institutions and insisted that Mr McGuinness resigned last week, "because it was the right thing to do".

Meanwhile the senior Sinn Fein representative also said that her party "remains committed to dialogue".

Last week there were apparent mixed messages from Sinn Fein over proposed talks with Ms O'Neill saying the party was "not interested" in entering negotiations before the electorate had their say on the conduct of the DUP at a press conference in Belfast while Gerry Adams said the party was "always open to talks".

Stormont crisis: Sinn Fein rule out negotiations as Secretary of State says 'high likelihood' of Northern Ireland election 

On Sunday Ms O'Neill said: “Sinn Féin remains committed to dialogue. This will require a step change from the governments and other parties. There can be no return to the status quo at Stormont. At this time there is no basis for credible negotiations to reinstate the institutions and we now must move to an election."

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