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Another U-turn by Sinn Fein after Conor Murphy's remark about coronavirus lockdown

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Finance Minister Conor Murphy

Finance Minister Conor Murphy

Finance Minister Conor Murphy

A backlash against Finance Minister Conor Murphy for claiming austerity increased the need for lockdown in Northern Ireland follows a series of U-turns from Sinn Fein on Covid-19.

Mr Murphy had to tweet a clarification yesterday that lockdown was "absolutely necessary" to save lives after he suggested it would not have been needed in Northern Ireland if the health service had better funding.

In March, Mr Murphy was also forced to concede that an attempt to secure a joint order with the Irish government for PPE in China had failed.

He said at the time that the order collapsed when bigger international players, such as the US and India, had muscled in on a deal with a Chinese supplier.

A separate order worth £60m was later placed by the Executive, with the first consignment arriving this week. That month, the deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill was also accused of going on a 'solo run' when she called for schools to be closed to contain the virus.

Just a day earlier she had appeared alongside the First Minister Arlene Foster to endorse a policy of keeping schools open.

A row over the Health Minister's request for army assistance to help cope with the pandemic emerged in April when Ms O'Neill criticised Robin Swann for not consulting Executive colleagues first.

She later clarified that she would not object to accepting help from the army if needed.

In April, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald faced criticism from unionists after claiming in an interview that the pandemic was a greater "accelerant" to Irish unity than Brexit.

In 2018, Ms McDonald suggested that a border poll shouldn't be held during Brexit uncertainty. A day later, she insisted her party wanted a referendum "as soon as possible".

Belfast Telegraph