SINN Fein has accused DUP leader Edwin Poots of acting in “bad faith”, and said that the nominations of a first minister and deputy first minister at Stormont this week have to be accompanied by the progression of Irish language legislation.

Sinn Fein’s conclusion that they “do not believe” Poots will deliver on the Irish Language Act could spark a political crisis at Stormont.

When Arlene Foster formally resigns as first minister today, deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill is automatically removed from her post as well – as the joint office can only function if both positions are filled.

Both parties will then need to re-nominate their respective first and deputy first ministers within seven days.

If one of the parties declines to re-nominate, or if either nomination fails to gain sufficient Assembly support, then a functioning executive cannot be formed and a snap election will become likely.

However, the DUP has insisted the party “stands resolute” in its determination to respect powersharing in Northern Ireland.

Referencing the potential for a political crisis during the Covid pandemic, the DUP added: “No-one would forgive Sinn Fein for playing fast and loose with people’s lives in Northern Ireland.”

Sinn Fein has been seeking guarantees from Poots on issues such as Irish language as a prerequisite for its engagement in the nomination process.

A senior Sinn Fein source said: “Sinn Fein has scoped out Edwin Poots and the DUP, having had a series of engagements where we’ve talked and listened up until yesterday.

“Our assessment is that he is being disingenuous by saying publicly that he will honour commitments agreed in NDNA (New Decade, New Approach).

“We believe they are acting in bad faith. We do not believe they will deliver on the Irish Language Act.

“Our position is that the nomination for first minister and deputy first minister has to be accompanied by legislation on the Irish language.”