‘If people pray… hopefully he will be back to himself ’ – Adams says McGuinness is 'very resilient'
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has described party colleague Martin McGuinness as “very resilient”, and said he hoped his party colleague would be back to full health soon.
Mr McGuinness resigned on Monday as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland but insisted that his health had “absolutely nothing” to do with the decision.
He said his resignation was over the handling of a botched energy scheme that could cost Northern Ireland taxpayers up to £490m (€564m).
Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Gerry Adams said that Mr McGuinness is “obviously ill” but is receiving the best medical treatment possible.
“He's very resilient, he's getting the very, very best of medical treatment, so hopefully - and if people pray, they should pray - hopefully he will be back to himself before too long.
"I myself have received many messages from former combatants, from former RUC people, from the Protestant community, all saying give our best wishes to Martin."
Sinn Féin has not disclosed details of the illness, but it has been reported by RTÉ that he has a rare heart condition.
His decision to resign effectively triggers an election in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Féin has seven days to nominate someone else to replace Mr McGuinness - which the party is not expected to do - or the secretary of state must call an election.
Mr Adams stated that Mr McGuinness was left in an "untenable position".
"He's invested ten years. He worked with Ian Paisley when people said that wasn't possible. He worked with Peter Robinson. He's a tireless worker. He's reached out and discommoded Republicans at time with his outreach.
"So you can be sure that him coming to this decision, with our full support, was done reluctantly. It was the last thing that Martin wanted to do."
In his resignation letter, which was sent to Speaker Robin Newton of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr McGuinness called for an election.
"We now need an election to allow the people to make their own judgment on these issues democratically at the ballot box," he wrote.
“The First Minister has refused to stand aside, without prejudice, pending a preliminary report from an investigation. That position is not credible or tenable," he said in his resignation letter.
"The DUP's handling of this issues has been completely out of step with the public mood which is rightly outraged at the squandering of public money and the allegations of misconduct and corruption," he added.