Edwin Poots resigns as leader of the DUP

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The 55-year-old creationist quit after an emergency meeting was held at the party's headquarters in Belfast. Sinn Fein will nominate @moneillsf as deputy First Minister.

"We have monumental challenges ahead that will require unity of objective and urgency".

The main cause for the recently-increased tensions in Northern Ireland is reportedly new Irish language legislation pushed by Sinn Fein, involving a special status for the native tongue, by analogy with legislation for Welsh speakers in Wales. As Givan could not begin his duties without a deputy, nationalists seized the moment to delay the appointment of their candidate and issue an ultimatum demanding the adoption of Irish language protection legislation.

In a statement following the meeting, Mr Poots said: "I have asked the party chairman to commence an electoral process within the party to allow for a new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party to be elected". The pair also drove from Stormont House without speaking to the media.

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Britain's Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis said on Twitter that he expected the ratification of the new first minister to take place later on Thursday.

Her successor, Edwin Poots, is seeking to nominate his social conservative colleague Paul Givan to take over as first minister and has until Monday to secure support of other parties in the power-sharing government.

The joint nature of the office Mrs Foster shared with Ms O'Neill in the latter's first term as deputy First Minister meant Ms O'Neill was automatically removed from the post on Monday and had to be nominated for the role again within those seven days.

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