Martin McGuinness resigns as NI deputy first minister

Despite the fallout from McGuinness's resignation, and barring any unexpected developments, the DUP and Sinn Féin are still likely to remain as Northern Ireland's biggest parties following any forthcoming election. "She is no longer a Minister and even if she was, it is now a cross-departmental matter and would require Executive agreement to instigate it", she added. At the core are fundamental questions about whether nationalists and unionists can work together in a devolved government.

In standing down, McGuinness accused Foster of "deep-seated arrogance" over a botched renewable energy subsidy scheme, a scandal that has been simmering in Northern Ireland for weeks.

From Sinn Féin's point of view, the stentorian attitude of Foster, refusing to stand aside, and the growing feeling among their own supporters that they have been weak and pushed around, has made it necessary for them to take a tough line.

On June 5 2008 he was re-appointed as deputy First Minister to serve alongside Peter Robinson, who succeeded Paisley as First Minister.

Martin McGuinness is an Irish Republican with a track record.

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McGuinness explained in his resignation letter that his party, Sinn Féin, would not be nominating another candidate to fill his role. McGuinness has said that the party will not do so. But the one in Northern Ireland had two very fundamental errors.

UK Government sources indicated that elections could be held in the second half of March.

"A significant part of this island will have nobody representing it in the Brexit negotiations".

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan says it's important that "irreparable damage" is not done to a fragile situation in Northern Ireland.

"How could anybody in real terms describe that as power-sharing?" And it is a point of principle that has been widely ignored in United Kingdom politics, and politics elsewhere, and has contributed to the disaffection of the public for politicians.

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Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland's European Union agriculture commissioner, Phil Hogan, said Brexit could mean a "hard" border between the north and the south of the island, if the United Kingdom left the single market. This would ensure the freedom of goods and people on the island and avoid a border for customs or immigration.

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

The DUP leader also announced plans for an inquiry into the scandal.

She warned failure to do so could result in "the permanent collapse of the political institutions". Opposition unionist UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said the resignation and any snap election means that the DUP have got off the hook.

The rift between the coalition partners seems so deep that even fresh elections are unlikely to solve the problem.

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