Sinn Féin believe election in Northern Ireland is 'inevitable'

Senior Sinn Féin figures have refused to say if Martin McGuinness will run as a candidate in the now imminent Stormont election, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith of the Irish Examiner.

Sinn Féin believe election in Northern Ireland is 'inevitable'

Senior Sinn Féin figures have refused to say if Martin McGuinness will run as a candidate in the now imminent Stormont election, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith of the Irish Examiner.

They have also refused to say if party leader Gerry Adams may return to Northern Ireland to fill the void if his colleague retires.

Mr Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald declined to clarify the situation as they separately confirmed a Stormont election is now "inevitable" and that no deal can be struck with the DUP to prevent a return to the ballot boxes.

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House 24 hours after a frail Mr McGuinness confirmed he is stepping down as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, triggering an election, Ms McDonald said the decision was taken by him alone.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader said she and other senior officials were told about the move last Sunday and were fully supportive of the reasoning for why Mr McGuinness was stepping down.

However, despite widespread rumours over Mr McGuinness's health and confirmation from his own party that he is suffering from a serious medical condition, Ms McDonald refused to say if he will run in the now imminent election.

"Martin will come back to that issue himself, he was asked that question yesterday. I can't answer a question on his behalf, that is entirely a matter for himself," she said.

Asked if Mr McGuinness had given any indication of whether he will run as a candidate again or if he will now retire from politics at an internal meeting with the Sinn Féin officer board last Sunday, Ms McDonald said the issue was not raised.

"He wasn't asked, he will make that decision himself and I expect you will be made known of that decision as and when it's made. The call will be his call and his alone.

"At a personal level this is a big decision for Martin. Martin has on a personal level invested a lot in the peace process, and these institutions, and let me tell you he didn't take this decision lightly," she said.

The comment was repeated by Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams, who told RTE Radio Mr McGuinness "will make clear his intentions" in the coming days.

Asked by reporters at Leinster House if Mr Adams could potentially fill any void left by McGuinness should he not return to politics, Ms McDonald said no decision has yet been made by Northern Ireland's deputy first minister on what decision he will make.

The comments were made as both Mr Adams and Ms McDonald stressed an election in Northern Ireland is now "inevitable" and that there is no possibility of a deal being struck with the DUP to prevent a return to the ballot boxes.

Despite under-fire DUP leader and current Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster saying she is willing to set up an immediate inquiry into the 'cash for ash' scandal which officially caused the Stormont strife, Mr Adams and Ms McDonald said unless Ms Foster resigns and confirms she will not seek to return as first minister the offer does not go far enough.

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