SF's Martin McGuinness will not seek re-election

McGuinness says his health and "current crisis" led him to make the decision

19th January, 2017
McGuinness at Stormont after failing to nominate a candidate for the role of Deputy First Minister on Monday Pic: Getty

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has announced this evening he will not seek re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

McGuinness said it had been his intention to step aside in May this year - a decade since he entered government with Ian Paisley as joint leader of the Northern Executive.

McGuinness said: "Unfortunately, my health and the current crisis have overtaken this timeframe and I am stepping down from my role to make way for a new leader of Sinn Féin in the North.

"Over the last ten years I have worked tirelessly to make power-sharing work. The institutions are now in a deep crisis as a result of recent events and we are facing into an election when the people will have their say.

"After long and careful consideration, I have decided that it is time for a new generation of republicans to lead us into this election and the negotiations that will follow."

He added: "It remains my own personal and political ambition to break the link with Britain and to unite all who share this island under the common banner of Irish men and women.

"I am deeply proud of the generation of Irish republicans that came before us. A generation that kept the vision of freedom alive through the difficult post-partition era when they faced unrelenting repression and persecution from the Ulster Unionist Party in an apartheid Orange state."

McGuinness said that his "obvious" health issues were being addressed by "a superb team of national health service doctors and nurses".

"But I want to be open and honest with my friends and colleagues in Sinn Féin, with the electorate of Foyle and with the wider community beyond my own constituency," he said.

"I also want to be fair to my family and to the teams of carers who are doing their best to provide me with the treatment I now require to deal with this very serious medical condition which I am very determined to overcome.

"Unfortunately, I am not physically able to continue in my current role and have therefore decided to make way for a new leader. This election is the right time for me to move aside so I will not seek re-election to the Assembly."

McGuinness said that he would continue to play a part in the "essential process of building bridges, of dialogue and of reconciliation between our still divided people".

McGuinness announced he was resigning as Deputy First Minister after Arlene Foster refused to step aside in the "cash for ash" row.

He made the announcement on January 9 at Stormont Castle where it was evident that his health had deteriorated over the Christmas period.

A Stormont Assembly election will now take place on March 2, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire announced earlier this week.

Brokenshire called the poll minutes after a deadline elapsed that effectively triggered the collapse of the powersharing executive in Belfast.

Brokenshire said: "No one should underestimate the challenge faced to the political institutions here in Northern Ireland and what is at stake.

"While it is inevitable that debate during an election period will be intense, I would strongly encourage the political parties to conduct this election with a view to the future of Northern Ireland and re-establishing a partnership government at the earliest opportunity after that poll.

"The government continues to stand firmly behind its commitment to the Belfast Agreement and its successors, and our responsibilities to safeguard political stability."

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