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Democratic Unionist Party special adviser Andrew Crawford, who has been accused of exerting influence in the Renewable Heating Initiative (RHI) scheme, has resigned.
Party leader Arlene Foster said she accepted his resignation with regret, referring to him as a "faithful servant" to the party and to Northern Ireland.
"Andrew has felt that given what occurred yesterday and indeed today that he was becoming a distraction to the important work of his minister, but indeed he was becoming the story," she said.
"Anyone who knows Andrew Crawford knows he's a very private person and he didn't want to become the story.
"I have accepted his resignation regretfully, I have to say."
His resignation comes after Martin McGuinness resigned as Deputy First Minister over the RHI scandal that has engulfed politics in Northern Ireland in recent weeks.
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Northern Ireland rounded off their incredible 2016 on a losing note as a depleted Croatia became the first visiting side to win at Windsor Park in three years.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win for Portugal, Michael O'Neill's men had recorded eight wins and two draws in their previous 10 fixtures in Belfast, but they were undone by a Croatian team missing Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren among others.
Mario Mandzukic, the most high profile player in the visitors' ranks, opened the scoring by bundling home early on before Duje Cop finished from a corner and ex-Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric fired into the top corner in a 3-0 success.
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