Europe

Belfast power-sharing in crisis as Sinn Fein leader to quit

  • FILE- In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has helped to lead the unity government for nearly a decade, said in his resignation letter on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, that he intends to trigger early elections in protest against his power-sharing partner, First Minister Arlene Foster. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

    FILE- In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has helped to lead the unity government for nearly a decade, said in his resignation letter on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, that he intends to trigger early elections in protest against his power-sharing partner, First Minister Arlene Foster. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 file photo, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, left, and Martin McGuinness speak to the media at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland's power-sharing government was plunged into crisis Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, as the senior Catholic leader announced he was quitting in a showdown with his Protestant colleague that could unravel a central achievement of peacemaking. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

    FILE- In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 file photo, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, left, and Martin McGuinness speak to the media at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland's power-sharing government was plunged into crisis Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, as the senior Catholic leader announced he was quitting in a showdown with his Protestant colleague that could unravel a central achievement of peacemaking. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)  (The Associated Press)

Northern Ireland's power-sharing government has been plunged into crisis as the senior Catholic leader says he's resigning amid deepening tensions with his Protestant colleague.

Martin McGuinness says in a statement Monday that he's quitting as deputy first minister of Northern Ireland's unity government at 5 p.m. (1700 GMT).

McGuinness says in a letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly that Sinn Fein intends to trigger early elections.

The government, formed in 2007 under terms of Northern Ireland's peace accord, requires support from Sinn Fein and the major Protestant-backed party, the Democratic Unionists, to survive.

McGuinness has repeatedly called on his colleague atop the government, Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster, to step aside from her role while lawmakers investigate her alleged mismanagement of a government "green energy" program that wasted taxpayers' money.