Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin TD for Donegal and party finance spokesperson, said his party’s view is there needs to be an election in the North, in the wake of Martin McGuinness’s resignation as the North’s deputy first minister.
Mr. McGuinness’s resignation this afternoon follows the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster of the DUP to step aside for an investigation into the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, also known as the “cash for ash” scheme.
Sinn Féin has said the party will not nominate anyone to the deputy first minister position, which leads the way to an election.
Deputy Doherty said he believed Mr. McGuinness’s decision was the correct one.
“Our view very clearly is there now needs to be an election,” he said. He said Sinn Féin had called on Arlene Foster to step aside, “without prejudice”, for the investigation to take place.
Deputy Doherty said in the face of the “arrogance of the DUP” and Ms. Foster’s refusal to step aside for an investigation into the scheme - estimated at an overspend of up to £500,000 - that he believed Mr. McGuinness was left with no option, “but to allow the people of the North to express their views in an election”.
In his letter of resignation, Mr. McGuinness said, “It is my firm view that the DUP’s handling of this issue has been completely out of step with a public mood which is rightly outraged at the squandering of public money and the allegations of misconduct and corruption. The public are demanding robust action and accountability but the DUP, in particular its leader Arlene Foster, have refused to accept this.”
Deputy Doherty also said Sinn Féin also believes there needs to be a change in attitude on the part of the DUP toward “basic issues of equality and respect for traditions”.
Last month there were also concerns expressed when the Department for Communities (DfC) in the north withdrew funding for the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme, which allowed about 100 people a year to attend summer Irish classes in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
In his letter of resignation, Mr. McGuinness said, “Over ten difficult and testing years, in the role of deputy first Minister, I have sought with all my energy and determination to serve all the people of the north and the island of Ireland by making the power-sharing government work.
“Throughout that time, I have worked with successive DUP First Ministers and, while our parties are diametrically opposed ideologically and politically, I have always sought to exercise my responsibilities in good faith and to seek resolutions rather than recrimination. I have worked tirelessly to defend our peace process to advance the reconciliation of our community and to build a better future for our young people.
“At times I have stretched and challenged republicans and nationalists in my determination to reach out to our unionist neighbours. It is a source of deep personal frustration that those efforts have not always been reciprocated by unionist leaders. At times they have been met with outright rejection,” Mr. McGuinness said.
"The equality, mutual respect and all-Ireland approaches enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement have never been fully embraced by the DUP," he said.