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Saturday 14 December 2019

Concerns grow over absent McGuinness's health

Martin McGuinness Picture: PA
Martin McGuinness Picture: PA

Claire O'Boyle

Concerns over the health of Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were growing last night after he missed a key Sinn Féin announcement.

The party yesterday outlined proposals for a probe into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal at a high-profile Stormont press conference.

However, Mr McGuinness was nowhere to be seen. Earlier this week, he was described as "not well". For the second time in three days, Health Minister Michelle O'Neill took the party reins, announcing demands for an independent investigation into the crisis and renewing calls for First Minister Arlene Foster to step aside.

The Deputy First Minister has not been seen in public since before Christmas.

He took part in a meeting with Mrs Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in Belfast on Wednesday, and held talks with Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

Sinn Féin later issued a joint statement from Mr McGuinness and Ms O'Neill. However, Mr McGuinness made no public comment or appearance after the meeting.

And at yesterday's Stormont press conference, the only reference to Mr McGuinness came from Ms O'Neill, who insisted he was central to decision-making around the RHI saga.

"Obviously Martin has his health issues but despite all of that he is still at the core of all these issues and has been involved in making all these decisions," she said.

Earlier this week, Mrs Foster alluded to Mr McGuinness's health troubles in an interview, where she referred to "jockeying for position" within Sinn Féin.

Irish Independent

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