Northern Ireland news

Foster rubbishes republican attempts to differentiate IRA attacks on Manchester from the suicide bombing

Sinn Féin leader in the north Michelle O'Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster
By David Young, Press Association

DUP leader Arlene Foster has rubbished republican attempts to differentiate IRA attacks on Manchester from the suicide bomb outrage.

Mrs Foster contrasted the condemnation of Monday's atrocity from Sinn Féin leader in the north Michelle O'Neill, who also signed a book of condolence, with her attendance at a recent commemoration in Co Tyrone for eight IRA men shot dead by the SAS as they attempted to blow up a police station.

Critics have accused Sinn Féin of hypocrisy and double standards for its response to the outrage in Manchester, given the IRA detonated bombs in the same city during the Troubles.

On an election canvas in Co Antrim, Mrs Foster commented on Mrs O'Neill's actions.

"Of course she has condemned Manchester, my goodness who wouldn't," the former first minister said.

"Then you have to reflect on the fact that only a few weeks ago she was in Loughgall commemorating those who were going out to murder.

"I think that's where the hypocrisy lies in all of this."

As a teenager, Mrs Foster was on a school bus blown up by the IRA.

Some republicans have insisted the IRA's actions in Manchester were different because they issued bomb warnings.

"I was on a bus that didn't have any warning in terms of being blown up," Mrs Foster said.

"So it is just a nonsense to talk about the fact that there were warnings given in every sort of circumstances."

On Thursday, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said those levelling criticism at his party were playing "political games".

"I think some people are trying to play political games and they shouldn't," he said.

"What happened in Manchester was an absolute tragedy, it was an atrocity, it was a scandal."

Mr Carthy said he was from the generation that had benefited most from the peace process.

"What we would say to all political parties is stop playing political games with things like this," he said.

"Let's actually send our solidarity to the people of Manchester and let's work together on this island to ensure we never have to revisit some of the darker days of the past."

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