Northern Ireland poised for snap election -- but it won't derail Brexit

James BrokenshirePANorthern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire.

LONDON — Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has announced a snap election on 2 March following the resignation of Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister last week.

The people of Northern Ireland will vote to elect a new Stormont Assembly after power-sharing party Sinn Fein refused to re-nominate a Deputy First Minister.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness was sharing power with First Minister Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party. But McGuinness quit last week in protest at the DUP’s handling of a government green energy scheme. Flaws in the scheme, known as the Renewable Heat Incentive, could cost taxpayers £490 million, it is claimed.

Brokenshire stressed that the election will not derail the triggering of Article 50 by the end of March this year. “This does not affect the timing for the triggering of Article 50,” he said at a press conference. “As the government, we will continue to seek our approach in respect of that — and also how we will continue to invite the [Northern Ireland] executive to relevant meetings during this time period.”

On the election itself, he added: “No-one should underestimate the challenge faced to the political institutions here in Northern Ireland and what is at stake. While it is inevitable that debate during an election period will be intense, I would strongly encourage the political parties to conduct this election with a view to the future of Northern Ireland and re-establishing a partnership government at the earliest opportunity after that poll.”

Northern Ireland’s last election only took place in May last year.

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