DUP's Arlene Foster accuses Sinn Fein of 'hypocrisy' over Manchester response
Democratic Unionist 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 Fein Stormont leader 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 Fein 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," said the former Stormont first minister.
"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," said Mrs Foster.
"So it is just a nonsense to talk about the fact that there were warnings given in every sort of circumstances."
On Thursday, Sinn Fein 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 Northern Ireland peace process.
"What we would say to all political parties is stop playing political games with things like this," he added.
"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."