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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: O'Neill's apology over Storey funeral 'falls short', says Foster

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First Minister Arlene Foster has said that Michelle O'Neill's apology over scenes at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey "falls short" of what was needed.

Mrs Foster said that the deputy First Minister failed to acknowledge her role in causing hurt to people who have lost loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The DUP leader said she regretted that her Sinn Fein counterpart had not offered a full and frank apology and said it had damaged relationships "right across the Executive".

"We will try now and deal with that matter, I will be speaking to other party leaders about this issue and trying to move forward," Mrs Foster said.

"It is important we try and rebuild the trust that has been lost.

"The Executive has tried to deliver messages in relation to public health guidance and try and keep our people safe and unfortunately the credibility of that messaging has been severely damaged over this past week."

In a statement on Friday morning, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill acknowledged the "considerable controversy" over her attendance at the funeral. She said it was "unfortunate" the matter had divided the Executive.

She again insisted she acted within the rules in respect of all the things that were within her control, such as the size of the cortege and the numbers attending inside St Agnes' Church.

"I will never apologise for attending the funeral of my friend," she said.

She added: "I am particularly concerned that grieving families, who have lost a loved one during the pandemic had their heartache compounded by the necessary restrictions which were in place at that time.

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Relationships between Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill are now strained

Relationships between Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill are now strained

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Relationships between Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill are now strained

“I am also concerned that those grieving families are experiencing more hurt over recent days. I am sorry for that.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald also issued an apology over the hurt caused by the funeral for the IRA veteran.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the deputy first minister's "half apology" did not go far enough and if she could not show contrition or admit wrongdoing she should stand aside.

Here's how Friday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph