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Sinn Féin v Foster: New year, same controversy with power sharing at 'tipping point'

All possibilities, including fresh elections, were on the table according to Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney.

Image: Niall Carson PA Wire/PA Images

SINN FÉIN HAS warned that power sharing in the North is at “unprecedented tipping point” as a senior party member again urged DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster to step down.

The party’s chairperson in the North, Declan Kearney, accused the DUP of “recklessly” dragging the political process down with its reaction to the “cash-for-ash” controversy.

Last month, it emerged that, when Foster headed the Department of Enterprise, the department did not address serious flaws  which was brought to its attention regarding the Renewable Heat Incentive, which ended up costing the taxpayer around £400 million.

The First Minister survived a no-confidence motion in Stormont just before Christmas, but Sinn Féin warned that she would face another motion in January.

Foster has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the affair, saying that she would welcome appearing before the North’s Public Accounts Committee as she has “nothing to hide”.

Kearney accused the DUP leader of “unvarnished arrogance” towards other political parties and the wider community in regard to the scandal, and added that the DUP has “lost the run of themselves within the northern political institutions”.

He said: “This why the DUP leader should step aside from the First Minister’s office.

Political institutions cease to have value when they do not reflect equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem, and have become detached from the lives of citizens they are meant to serve.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, he added that all options would be considered, including fresh elections, if Foster did not step aside after a preliminary report into the scheme was published.

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In a BBC NI interview, former NI minister Jonathan Bell claimed that he was met with a hostile reaction when he informed First Minister Arlene Foster that the government energy scheme was being abused.

Bell told the BBC last month that Foster refused to shut down the RHI scheme when she was informed of the flaws.

He has since been “suspended without prejudice” from the party.

Read: Arlene Foster survives no confidence vote – but Sinn Féin plan another for New Year

Read: The DUP suspends former minister as the ‘ash for cash’ scandal burns on

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Sean Murray

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