BELFAST: Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned on Monday over his power-sharing partner's handling of a controversial energy scheme, a move likely to collapse the region's government and trigger an election.
The surprise resignation comes weeks before the British government is due to trigger the process of leaving the European Union, a decision that has divided Northern Ireland, which has Britain's only land border with the EU. McGuinness's Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party had urged pro-British First Minister Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to step aside over a botched scheme that could cost the province hundreds of millions of pounds.
"The First Minister has refused to stand aside. Therefore it is with deep regret and reluctance that I am tendering my resignation as deputy First Minister," McGuinness said in a statement. "Sinn Féin will not tolerate the arrogance of Arlene Foster and the DUP. We now need an election to allow the people to make their own judgement." McGuinness, who has recently taken a break from some of his duties because of an undisclosed illness, told the BBC that he would say at a later date whether or not he would be well enough to run as a candidate in any election.