Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness quits as Deputy First Minister

Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister, has resigned today, in response to Arlene Foster's refusal to step aside as First Minister in the wake of the RHI scandal.

The move is likely to trigger a general election.

In this image taken from video, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness announces his resignation, January 9, 2017, with the declared intention of triggering early elections in Northern Ireland.

He said he was resigning with "deep regret and reluctance", but that "Sinn Fein will not tolerate the arrogance of Arlene Foster and the DUP".

In practice, this has meant that the two parties with the least in common have dominated successive governments: the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein.

Northern Ireland, whose government has powers devolved from London, endured 30 years of sectarian violence known as The Troubles in which 3,500 people died.

Tensions have been growing in recent months in the power-sharing government, created after a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence between pro-British unionists and Irish nationalists who wanted to join the Republic of Ireland, and allowed border checkpoints to be dismantled. She strongly denies the allegations and says she has been unfairly represented in the media. No cost controls were put in place and warnings were ignored.

But the subsidy tariffs were set too high and, without a cap, resulting in Stormont paying out significantly more than the price of fuel.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said: "Unless Sinn Fein nominates a replacement to the position of Deputy First Minister within the next seven days, it is incumbent upon me to call an Assembly election within a reasonable period".

The scheme aimed to encourage businesses to switch to renewable energy sources. But Foster has been clear that she won't step aside and it is hard to imagine that the DUP will want to let Sinn Fein, in effect, remove its party leader.

However, Mr McGuinness was nowhere to be seen.

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