A leading journalist has said Northern Ireland is likely to return to direct rule by Westminister following the collapse of the power-sharing executive in Stormont.
Irish News editor Noel Doran made the comments after the executive government collapsed, necesitating early elections which will take place in March.
Last week Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister and head of Sinn Fein, resigned in protest at the handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which critics say has been a huge failure and wasted taxpayers' money. Talks aimed to find a resolution on the green energy scheme have subsequently failed.
Doran suggested that, while Northern Ireland's political and religious tensions have little to do with the RHI debacle, they are never far from the surface.
He told Julia Hartley-Brewer: "[The current dispute is] over money, grants, allocations of public funds – all of which came to a head over a renewable heat incentive.
"But this power-sharing group was an unusual arrangement between former sworn enemies. The tensions are never far from the surface.
"Now they’ve come to the fore, it looks like it will be very difficult to get the institutions back up and running any time in the near future.
"What’s likely to happen is return to direct rule from Westminster with Dublin influence, which will make the electorate frustrated because we can’t govern our affairs like Wales or Scotland."