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Northern Ireland's politicians issue Easter messages of hope amid pandemic

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DUP leader Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP leader Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP leader Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

On an Easter Sunday like no other, politicians took to social media to wish the public a Happy Easter while encouraging them to abide by social distancing rules.

First Minister Arlene Foster chose to echo the sentiments of the Queen’s first ever recorded Easter address, telling her Twitter followers that we need the occasion now more than ever.

In a special address recorded to mark the Easter weekend, the Queen spoke of light overcoming darkness as many spend the occasion apart from their loved ones.

It comes as the coronavirus crisis makes church services impossible on a day when many would normally gather to commemorate the resurrection.

“By keeping apart we keep others safe,” the Queen said in her message recorded on Good Friday.

“We know that coronavirus will not overcome us… May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”

The DUP Leader welcomed the royal address, sharing on Twitter: “Such a poignant message of faith and hope from our sovereign.”

As the Bank Holiday weekend continues, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood urged the public to be selfless this Easter by staying at home.

Marking the occasion, which coincides with the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the Foyle MP said a new partnership is needed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“I know that Easter will be a particularly difficult time when most of us are used to celebrating with the people we love.

“This time of year also has a particular meaning for people on this island. 22 years ago we reached an accommodation that ended violence, laying the foundations for peace, partnership and reconciliation.

“This period of isolation will not go on forever. And while we find the familiar ease of the Easter season clashing with the raw reality of lockdown, we should all be comforted by the fact that by making these sacrifices, we’re bringing forward the time when we can be reunited with family, friends and those we care about."

Green Party Deputy Leader Mal O’Hara, meanwhile, spent Easter Sunday delivering soup to isolated and vulnerable people across Belfast.

“Happy Easter - another 200 soups out across N&W Belfast for vulnerable & isolated people,” he shared on Twitter.

Key workers at the Southern Trust chose to mark Easter Sunday by partnering with Unison NI to urge people to stay at home and follow social distancing measures.

In a message featuring healthcare staff and representatives of the public service union, the trust said: “We hope everyone is having a lovely Easter Sunday and a very special shout out to all of our staff who are working today.

“We are all united in this together. We are staying at work for you so please follow government advice and stay at home for us.

“On behalf of everyone in Unison I am sending love and condolences to all the family of those who have lost loved ones.”

Belfast Telegraph