Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland parties suspend election campaign after Manchester bombing

By Noel McAdam

Northern Ireland's political leaders have voiced solidarity and sympathy with the people of Manchester following the pop concert suicide bombing.

Parties suspended campaigning for the general election for a day with several events being postponed or cancelled as a mark of respect to the 22 deceased.

UTV delayed recording the main party leaders' debate, which had been organised for this afternoon. The SDLP and the Conservatives also postponed the launch of their election manifestos and Sinn Fein called off the launch of an election billboard.

The Ulster Unionists rescheduled their manifesto event, which had been pencilled in for tomorrow.

The former First Minister Arlene Foster condemned "this indiscriminate and barbaric terrorist attack.

"We all stand in solidarity with the people of Manchester and must unite in condemnation of those who brought terror to so many families as they enjoyed a concert."

The DUP leader added: "As has happened so often before, our emergency services responded swiftly and professionally without regard for their own safety to help those in need.

"I pay tribute to them and to those who are already working to identify anyone involved in this attack and bring them to justice.

"Whilst terrorists can bring pain and grief, the kindness and generosity displayed by the people of Manchester has already shown that they will not win."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: "This was a shocking and horrendous attack on children and young people enjoying a concert.

"Our thoughts are with those killed and with all those who are injured."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said it had been a "heartbreaking act of barbarism. Today is a day for unity of purpose, not party political difference."

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann called it an attempt to "destroy our way of life" which will not succeed.

"We stand united with the people of Manchester to face down the terrorists who carried out this cowardly act," he said.

Alliance Leader Naomi Long voiced her "deepest thanks" to the emergency services who had to deal with the aftermath of the bombing in the MEN arena, which killed 22 and injured 59.

"Those behind these attacks cannot be allowed to win," she said.

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