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Michelle O'Neill: I will not stand in way of Army help amid pandemic

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Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Credit: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill has said she will “not stand in the way” of the deployment of the British Army in the fight against coronavirus.


Sinn Fein’s vice-president was speaking at Wednesday's Covid-19 press conference alongside First Minister Arlene Foster.

Ms O’Neill was asked to clarify the remarks she made last week after Health Minister Robin Swann made a formal request to the army for help in distributing lifesaving equipment.

He also requested help from the Ministry of Defence in planning for a Nightingale hospital at the site of the former Maze Prison.

The Deputy First Minister had said the Executive should have been informed of Mr Swann’s decision before any request was made.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ms O’Neill said she has raised her concerns with the Health Minister around how his request was “communicated and the fact there wasn't an Executive discussion”.

“I have said here on this platform I don’t know how many times and I’ll say it today, my number one priority is to save lives and whatever is required, including using the British Army, to save lives then I will not stand in the way,” she stated.

“That’s what I’m here to do, I only have one objective.”

Meanwhile, DUP leader Ms Foster confirmed that the lockdown regulations will continue for another three weeks.

After that period, the Executive will again review the decision before announcing any further extension or relaxation.

“When this all started the process was about containing, delaying and then about mitigation,” she said. “The next phase of that was recovery.

“We’re not at that stage yet but what we will be doing in the Executive will be planning for recovery.”

Ms O’Neill added that she was not in a position to give out exact details of an order for personal protective equipment but did say it was “hugely significant”.

Belfast Telegraph