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Criticism of DUP after failure to pay tribute to Friel

First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson has come under criticism for not paying tribute to renowned playwright Brian Friel who has died aged 86

THE DUP has come in for criticism for failing to comment on the death of Irish literary giant Brian Friel.

There were no DUP representatives present at Stormont yesterday as tributes were paid to the playwright while DUP leader Peter Robinson only issued a statement about Friel's death after being contacted by The Irish News.

Tributes poured in for Brian Friel, widely regarded as Ireland's foremost playwright, following his death on Friday in Co Donegal.

The 86 year-old writer was described as "Ireland's Chekhov" for his searing insights into Irish life in several critically acclaimed plays including, Dancing of Lughnasa and Philadelphia Here I Come.

Among those to pay tribute on Friday were President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and former SDLP leader John Hume.

Ahead of the start of assembly business in Stormont yesterday, MLAs also took to the floor to pay tribute to Friel with comments from the SDLP, Sinn Féin, Alliance and UUP.

However, no-one from the DUP made any remarks.

SDLP assembly member John Dallat said the failure to comment showed the DUP had "not embraced the whole community in the way they say they want to".

"It didn't go unnoticed that no-one from the DUP gave a tribute to Friel in the chamber today," he said.

"It's extremely disappointing. Here we have a party in a key position in government, but that doesn't have the capacity to stand on their feet and pay tribute to one of the greatest literary giants.

"Today's debate in the chamber was wholesome, it was not political but the deafening silence from the DUP was apparent.

"We know that Friel must have inspired John Hume and indirectly contributed to the peace process and here we have the beneficiaries of the peace process, silent."

The first minister meanwhile issued a statement yesterday about Friel's death after being contacted by The Irish News.

"Brian Friel is someone who achieved worldwide acclaim and he will be rightly remembered as another literary genius to come from our shores," Mr Robinson said.

"My thoughts are obviously with his family at this time of such terrible loss, but I would hope they can take some comfort from the fact that his work will live on to be enjoyed by many generations in the future."

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