Sinn Féin unveils billboard on anniversary of McGuinness resignation

The billboard carrying the late deputy leader's signature reads "no return to the status quo"

Sinn Féin unveils billboard on anniversary of McGuinness resignation

Image: Sinn Féin/Twitter

A billboard has been erected in Derry marking one year since Martin McGuinness resigned from Stormont - sparking the fall of powersharing in the North.

Sinn Féin unveiled the billboard on the back of Free Derry Corner this morning with the quote "no return to the status quo" – his words from that day – emblazoned across it.

The artwork includes his signature.

These people gathered to see it go on display this morning:

Cash for Ash

Mr McGuinness resigned his position in protest over the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) handling of the ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal.

The scandal revolves around Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme which was designed to encourage businesses to replace older heating sources with eco-friendly alternatives.

Errors in the scheme - introduced under the watch of DUP leader Arlene Foster while she was enterprise minister – meant that subsidies exceeded the cost price of the fuel, effectively encouraging users to burn extra fuel in order to claim money.

Mr McGuinness resigned after Mrs Foster refused to stand down for the duration of an inquiry into the scandal.


One year on – and following elections in the North and in the UK as a whole – Northern Ireland is still without a powersharing executive.

Speaking this morning, Mrs Foster said it will remain that way until Sinn Féin drops what she termed its “red lines.”

"I think an awful lot has happened in the year,” she said.

“We've had two elections; we've had a very clear mandate in relation to the way forward - but unfortunately Sinn Féin have insisted their red line still exists."

She said if the deadlock cannot be overcome, “then we must have some sort of Government ministers here in Northern Ireland so if they continue with their strategy then we will have direct rule back here.”

Stormont elections

Former Stormont Health Minister Michelle O'Neill was named Mr McGuinness' replacement as leader of Sinn Féin in the North at the end of January.

She led the party to its best performance in Northern Ireland’s election history at the start of March – cutting the DUPs 10-seat advantage to one.

That was followed by the British Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a general election in the UK for early June.

The election was a disaster for Mrs May and left her requiring the support of the DUP’s 10 elected MPs to form a Government.


All parties in the North have attended talks in the months since the Stormont election in a bid to break the deadlock – however there is still no devolved Government.

Throughout this period, MLAs have been collecting their full salary of £49,000 a year.

One of the major sticking points throughout the talks has been the issue of citizens' rights and the Irish language.

Sinn Féin is calling for the introduction of a standalone Irish Language Act, bringing Gaeilge onto a par with English in the region.

The DUP had proposed a hybrid act, accommodating both the Irish language and those who speak in Ulster-Scots

The introduction of an Acht na Gaeilge (Irish Language Act) was included in the St Andrew’s Agreement which was the basis for the restoration of devolution in the North in 2007.

Northern Ireland’s political parties joined the British and Irish governments in signing the agreement following extensive talks in Scotland.

This morning, Michelle O’Neill again noted that her party is "up for Government" but warned that it must be “on the basis of respect of rights and integrity in heart of government.”

Northern Secretary

Following the resignation of Northern Secretary James Brokenshire on health grounds yesterday, his replacement Karen Bradley will have her work cut out for her in attempting to bring an end to the stalemate. 

It is likely talks will be further delayed as she settles herself into the role.

Ms Bradley has little experience with Northern Irish politics and intends to meet some of the key players in the coming days.

She is a former tax manager and accountant who voted remain in the Brexit referendum.

An ally of Theresa May and she has said that reinstalling an executive in Stormont is her top priority.