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Sinn Fein refuses to clarify Martin McGuinness health problems

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Picture Mal McCann
Seamus McKinney

SINN Féin has again refused to explain the health issues which forced deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness to withdraw from a trade mission to China last month.

The state of Mr McGuinness’s health was raised when the Executive Office confirmed he was undergoing medical tests and treatment for an unspecified problem last year. The deputy first minister’s health was raised again in December by Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams. Mr Adams told a party meeting in Derry his colleague’s health issues were making it more difficult to ensure the stability of the political institutions.

The issue was placed back in the public domain again yesterday by DUP first minister, Arlene Foster who suggested many of the attacks on her over the RHI scandal had more to do with Sinn Féin members raising their individual profiles.

Mrs Foster said: “The deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, is not well and there seems to be some jockeying for position internally.”

The deputy first minister took part in a meeting with Mrs Foster and DUP deputy leader, Nigel Dodds in Belfast yesterday. He also held talks with Secretary of State, James Brokenshire after which Sinn Féin issued a joint statement from Mr McGuinness and Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill. However, the party refused to comment further on Mr McGuinness’s health or to suggestions the problems may be heart related.

A Sinn Féin spokesman referred The Irish News to earlier statements about the deputy first minister’s health. The spokesman said Mr McGuinness was at his desk yesterday and had issued statements about the RHI scandal in the last week.

However, a Sinn Féin Stormont press conference yesterday afternoon was fronted by Health Minister Michelle O'Neill.

In its only comment on the deputy first minister’s health, the Executive Office said in December the decision to withdraw from the China trip was to enable doctors to conduct a medical assessment.

A spokesman said: “Martin McGuinness is fulfilling his responsibilities as deputy first minister working with his departmental political advisers. There has been no disruption to the work of the Executive Office during this period.”

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