Martin McGuinness said in his resignation statement that the position of the first minister, Arlene Foster, was untenable [Image: Jeff Spicer/PA].
Could Northern Ireland split from the United Kingdom as a result of Martin McGuinness’s resignation?
The province voted very heavily in favour of Remaining in the European Union in the referendum last June, and the Northern Irish peace process depends on adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights – from which the UK would depart when it leaves the EU.
Put those things together with an opportunity to elect a leadership that supports reintegration with the Republic and suddenly it seems the Union may be in more imminent danger than anybody thought – even with the threat of another Scottish independence referendum over ‘hard’ Brexit.
Then again, a huge majority of the population opposes anything that may bring about a resumption of ‘The Troubles’, as they were known, so that possibility must also be taken into consideration.
Mr McGuinness’s resignation appears to be mostly about the “Cash for Ash” scandal, a failed green energy scheme likely to cost the Northern Irish taxpayer around £400 million.
NI First Minister Arlene Foster has refused to step down, even temporarily, to allow an independent inquiry to take place.
So Mr McGuinness resigned, forcing a new NI Assembly election. This means Ms Foster cannot remain as First Minister.
If the balance of power shifts to give Sinn Fein the upper hand, it seems likely that a long period of negotiation will be necessary before a new government may be announced.
Who knows what the result of those negotiations will be?
Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, has resigned from office in protest over his power-sharing partner’s handling of a bungled green energy scheme.
McGuinness’s resignation means a new Northern Ireland assembly election is inevitable.
Under the complex rules of power-sharing in the region, if either the first minister or the deputy resigns the coalition government between unionists and nationalists falls.
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