We urged McGuinnessnot to resign: Dodds

DUP MP Nigel Dodds has said he urged the late Martin McGuinness not to resign as Deputy First Minister several times, because of how difficult he feared it would be to restore the power-sharing institutions once they had fallen.

The DUP leader at Westminster, speaking as the deadline for the formation of an Executive was pushed back until August, said: “I remember the evening when Martin McGuinness came and told Arlene Foster, me and a number of our aides that he was going to resign.

“Even at that stage, we urged him to think again. We said to him, ‘If you collapse everything, it will be much, much harder to build it up again.’”

The North Belfast MP claimed the issues that the Sinn Féin leader had cited in his resignation letter in January 2017 - [these included the rights of women, the LGBT community and ethnic minorities, Irish language speakers, and the unresolved issues surrounding the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scandal - had not been insurmountable and could have been resolved without the collapse of Stormont.

He said: “It was throwing away 10 years of progress over something that, by comparison with all that we have been through in Northern Ireland and have overcome, was a comparatively minor issue - important, but not the sort of issue that we had dealt with previously and had overcome.”

He added: “We urged him to think again, but Sinn Féin was determined to take this course of action.

“In the full knowledge of what might be at stake, it plunged Northern Ireland into a needless election.

“We have all seen what unnecessary elections sometimes bring about: very much unintended consequences. These elections have outcomes. Martin McGuinness called that election; Sinn Féin effectively called that election in the belief that it would strengthen its position and things would carry on with it in a more important, dominant position.

“Of course, it did not work out that way.”