Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.36 3 Jul 2020


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Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has rejected an apology from Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill over potential breaches of coronavirus regulations there.

Large crowds lined the streets for Bobby Storey’s funeral in Belfast earlier this week.

Hundreds of people failed to observe social distancing after the funeral of 64-year-old former IRA member.

A number of prominent Sinn Féin members attended the funeral - including party leader Mary Lou McDonald and Ms O'Neill.

However, the party has insisted that they followed public health guidelines while they were there.

Earlier, Ms O'Neill said: "I am particularly concerned that grieving families, who have lost a loved one during the pandemic had their heartache compounded by the necessary restrictions which were in place at that time.

"Not being able to have their family and friends’ support to help them through was hugely difficult.

"I am also concerned that those grieving families are experiencing more hurt over recent days. I am sorry for that."

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill during a press conference outside the Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast. Picture by: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

But in a statement on Friday, DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "Sinn Féin has been forced to make this statement by the reaction of people from all faiths and none.

"This has never been an Orange and Green issue as some would try to paint it.

"It is right to apologise for the hurt inflicted on many, many people but sadly there is no acknowledgement from the deputy first minister that this hurt has been caused by her actions.

"She let people down by her actions and those of her ministerial team."

"There has been no recognition that regulations and guidelines were broken and the deputy first minister cannot escape that reality.

"There is no escaping the fact that trust and the creditability of the executive messaging has been totally undermined by the deputy first minister and that has not been rectified by today’s comments."

She added: "There are a number of complaints that we, and others, have lodged.

"Investigations are now underway and need to examine these matters."

Main image: Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster during a coronavirus media briefing at Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast. Picture by: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire/PA Images

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Arlene Foster Bobby Storey Funeral Coronavirus DUP Michelle O'Neill Northern Ireland Regulations Sinn Fein

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