Northern Ireland news

Michelle O'Neill asked about women killed by the IRA

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill
Paul Ainsworth

DEPUTY first minister Michelle O'Neill has been challenged at the Assembly about IRA violence against women.

During an oral question on Stormont's Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, Upper Bann DUP MLA Diane Dodds urged Ms O'Neill to condemn the IRA attack in December 1996 when an RUC officer was shot while guarding her and husband Nigel Dodds at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The couple were there to speak with staff about their son Andrew, who suffered from spina bifida and who died two years later aged eight.

Ms Dodds also urged the Sinn Féin deputy first minister to condemn IRA murders of women including Jean McConville, who was kidnapped and killed in 1972, and Yvonne Dunlop, who died in a 1976 firebomb in Ballymena.

In her response, Ms O'Neill said: "I think the politics of condemnation is not the right space for us to be very much focussed on."

She added: "I want to ensure that we do heal the wounds of the past...because otherwise we are burdening today's generation with carrying that same thing, and we know it's intergenerational."

Following the sitting, Ms Dodds called Ms O'Neill's answer "hugely disappointing", adding: "this was a real test of Michelle O’Neil’s leadership. A test of leadership which the deputy First Minister failed spectacularly.”

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