Timeline: How we reached a political stalemate at Stormont - The Irish News
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Timeline: How we reached a political stalemate at Stormont

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O'Neill and the leadership team speak to the media at Stormont calling an end to the current talks. Picture by Mal McCann
Gareth McKeown

November 21, 2016

In a joint statement, First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness highlight the harmonious relationship in the Executive. On the six month anniversary of taking office they say that the DUP, Sinn Féin and Justice Minister Claire Sugden are "now in an Executive facing in the same direction".

December 2016

The mood has changed and the full implications of the overspend of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme are known. Arlene Foster resists political calls to resign over her role in overseeing the botched green energy scheme. Mrs Foster says she will not step aside as First Minister and insists she has done nothing wrong.

December 14 2016

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness ask for the Assembly to be recalled to discuss RHI. Mrs Foster survives vote of no confidence amidst growing pressure on her to resign.

December 15 2016

Former DETI minister Jonathan Bell breaks DUP ranks and speaks out. He claims advisers to Arlene Foster attempted to remove her name from documents linked to RHI and two top DUP advisers "were not allowing this scheme to be closed" at the point when costs were spiralling out of control in autumn 2015. Mr Bell is suspended by the party for his conduct and later stands as an Independent in the March Assembly election.

January 9, 2017

Martin McGuinness resigns as deputy first minister removing Arlene Foster from her joint-office position of First Minister and leading to the collapse of the power-sharing Executive. Mr McGuinness says there will be "no return to the status quo" and calls for a fresh Assembly election to take place.

In his resignation letter he says the "equality, mutual respect and all-Ireland approaches enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement have never been fully embraced by the DUP" and the party's handling of RHI has been "completely out of step" with public mood.

In response Mrs Foster says the actions of Mr McGuinness were not "not principled" and "purely political".

January 16, 2017

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire sets the date for a fresh Assembly election on March 2. The move comes after Sinn Féin chooses not to nominate a deputy first minister to replace Martin McGuinness.

January 23, 2017

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill is announced as Sinn Féin's new leader in the north, replacing Martin McGuinness.

January 24, 2017

A public inquiry into the botched Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is announced and is to be chaired by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin.

March 2, 2017

Northern Ireland goes to the polls again with the DUP marginally holding on to its position as the largest party in the north. The party loses 10 seats returning 28 in the new 90 member Assembly, with Sinn Féin making significant gains and just one behind with 27. The landmark result ends the unionist majority at Stormont. A total of 64.8 per cent of the electorate cast their vote, a 10 point increase on 2016.

March 6, 2017

Talks begin between the DUP, Sinn Féin and Secretary of State James Brokenshire to try and form a new power-sharing Executive. DUP leader Arlene Foster talks of a "good discussion" with Mr Brokenshire and said that in her view the restoration of devolution was "doable". Mr Brokenshire sets a three-week deadline to form an executive.

March 7, 2017

Sinn Féin walks out of talks with James Brokenshire with leader in the north Michelle O'Neill accusing the Secretary of State of engaging in "waffle, waffle and more waffle" over legacy issues.

March 21, 2017

Former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness dies aged 66.

March 23, 2017

Sinn Féin Gerry Adams says he is opposed to extending the deadline on talks aimed at forming a new Executive. "It is possible for agreement to be reached in the coming days," he said.

March 26, 2017

Michelle O'Neill says the talks at Stormont Castle have run their course and the party would not be supporting nominations for the positions of first and deputy first minister. Party leader Gerry Adams said "no substantitive progress" has been made in the talks. DUP leader Arlene Foster said there was "little to suggest that Sinn Féin want to secure agreement" and accused the party of resisting involving the other parties in discussions "at every opportunity".

March 27, 2017

The Assembly session to appoint a first and deputy first minister is suspended. The 4pm deadline for agreement to form a new Stormont government passes. Arlene Foster said Sinn Féin was "not in agreement-finding mode" during talks, while Michelle O'Neill accused the DUP of not approaching the discussions with the "right attitude".

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