Power Sharing and devolution is expected to collapse in Northern Ireland after First Minister Arlene Forster refused to stand down following an energy scheme scandal.
The “cash for ash” and other issues led to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to resign. His party, Sinn Fein, is refusing to nominate a replacement for McGuinness and subsequently trigger an election.
Under the rules of power-sharing in Northern Ireland, if one party refuses to participate in the administration then the government cannot survive.
McGuinness cited Forster’s refusal to stand down as why he resigned from government. Currently, he is being treated for a rare condition that attacks the heart. It is uncertain whether he will stand in the forthcoming election. It is understood that Sinn Fein would like his name to appear on the party’s slate.
Sinn Fein has until 5pm today to nominate a new deputy first minister. If they have not done so by that time, then Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, will call a date for fresh elections into the assembly.
The energy scandal at the heart of the dispute has seen the costs of the project spiral out of control.
Although the official start of the election campaign is yet to begin, parties in the dispute have started to prepare election campaigns. Sinn Fein unveiled its “Get Even” slogan over the weekend, while Democratic Unionist Arlene Foster attended a party rally in Fermanagh on Saturday.
Sinn Fein to Trigger Election
Outgoing Sinn Fein’s finance minister, Maitin O Muillioir said, “People are looking for an opportunity to say they have zero tolerance when it comes to corruption, zero tolerance to bigotry, and that they want respect and equality. That is what will be on Sinn Féin’s ballot paper.”
While Alliance leader Naomi Long said, “Our party isn’t to blame for the snap election called as a result of the DUP’s and Sinn Féin’s mess. But, unlike some, we are not running scared of an election. We will be facing the people confident – and offering the electorate an alternative to the secrecy, corruption and cronyism that they are sick of at Stormont.”