Martin McGuinness won't stand in the Northern Ireland election due to ill health

 
Mark Sands
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Martin McGuinness Resigns As Deputy First Minister
McGuinness stepped down last week, triggering the election in Northern Ireland (Source: Getty)

Former IRA leader and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness will reportedly not seek re-election at the imminent Northern Ireland vote.

McGuiness stood down earlier this month in protest over first minister Arlene Foster's handling of a growing scandal involving incentives provided to businesses to use renewable heat system.

The Sinn Fein politician told the BBC that ill-health was responsible for his decision.

"The question I ask myself is: Are you capable, are you physically capable, of fighting this election with the intensity that elections need to be fought?" he said.

"And the honest answer is that I am not physically capable or able to fight this election, so I will not be a candidate."

McGuinness has helped to lead the Northern Irish assembly since 2007, serving as deputy first minister, originally alongside Ian Paisley.

Under the rules of the power-sharing agreement, his resignation triggered an election when Sinn Fein refused to nominate a successor.

The vote will take place on 2 March.

Responding to McGuinness' decision, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Martin McGuinness served the people of Northern Ireland as deputy First Minister for nearly a decade. We recognise his work over many years securing a number of significant political agreements.

“He played a key role in moving the Republican movement towards a position of using peaceful and democratic means. I want to send him best wishes for his retirement."

She added: "We will all continue to work to make sure that the people of Northern Ireland are able to live freely and in peace."

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