Some highlights from the party leader’s statements, and top marks to Mike Nesbitt for getting his out earliest:
This is Sinn Fein letting the DUP off the hook. The public mood clearly indicates they want the facts of the RHI debacle exposed. To move straight to an election without this taking place is farcical. They had a choice between the integrity of the institutions and electoral advantage and they appear to have chosen the latter.
“In the wider context, it is a source of very serious concern that at a key moment, just as the British Government prepares to trigger Article 50 and start negotiations on the UK’s exit from the European Union, the region that stands to lose most and requires the greatest level of focus to protect its position, is without a Government, is facing a bitter election campaign, and is mired in recriminations and distrust.
“At a time when people in the North need their representatives to step up to the plate, put differences aside and fight together in the common interest to meet a once in a generation threat, they have been very badly let down by the ruling parties of DUP and Sinn Féin.
“We in Fianna Fáil have been warning for some time about the growing dysfunction within the Northern political establishment and we have been very critical of the failure of the Irish and British Governments to fully engage with Northern Ireland and the fact that they have taken stability and progress in the North for granted. The effect of that disengagement is now clear to see,”
“Massive issues remain on the table, in addition to the issue of an estimated £500 million overspend on RHI. Our budget is overdue, which will impact directly on public, community and voluntary sector organisations providing vital services to the public. We need a proper Brexit plan for Northern Ireland, which faces huge challenges in the coming months. But we now have the two parties who were entrusted with leadership responsibility abdicating it in favour of party political posturing and those matters remain unresolved.
“The Sinn Féin statement references the attacks by the DUP on Irish identity and culture and on the equality agenda. All of those statements and sentiments are true and I agree with them all. The DUP have governed disgracefully and it has extended well beyond the leadership of Arlene Foster.
“The nationalist community has watched this unfold year after year. However, the nationalist community also know that Sinn Féin have been the lead players in government with the DUP for over a decade. Sinn Féin were jointly in control and are therefore jointly responsible.”
“There is a difference between being tolerant and being timid. “For years Sinn Fein have been addicted to appeasement and are only now waking up to the reality that the DUP have been running rings around them in government. “
And from Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, a terse statement of fact:
“Unless Sinn Fein nominates a replacement to the position of deputy First Minister within the next seven days, it is incumbent upon me to call an Assembly election within a reasonable period. “I would urge Northern Ireland’s political leaders to take the necessary steps to work together to find a way forward and I will work with all parties and the Irish government to this end.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty