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Four Executive parties urge Michelle O’Neill to step aside

It follows her attendance at a large funeral for veteran IRA member Bobby Storey.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former party leader Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the funeral (PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former party leader Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the funeral (PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former party leader Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the funeral (PA)

Four of the five political parties represented on the Stormont Executive have urged Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill to step aside over her attendance at a large funeral for IRA veteran Bobby Storey.

Here is what they said:

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson described the coronavirus regulations as “clear”, adding what happened at Mr Storey’s funeral “sent out a very, very bad message to people in Northern Ireland”.

He told the BBC: “In light of the failure of Sinn Fein yesterday to grasp the opportunity to apologise, it is our view that the Deputy First Minister must now step back from her role while these matters are investigated by the PSNI.

“We will be asking the standards authorities in the Assembly to examine whether those MLAs who attended the funeral broke the code of conduct for MLAs, and we will also be asking the PSNI to specifically investigate any potential regulatory breaches by Executive ministers including the Deputy First Minister.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood urged Ms O’Neill to step aside and allow her actions to be examined by Assembly standards authorities.

“The point isn’t that she accidentally broke some obscure piece of guidance – she broke the guidance that she set out, that she argued for, that she stood over and made the case for, rightly and sensibly, but then decided to set that all aside because, I think, for Sinn Fein, they believe that there is one rule for them and one rule for everyone else,” he told the BBC.

UUP leader Steve Aiken accused republican leaders of “showing a flagrant disregard for public health guidance”.

He added: “It is hard to see how Michelle O`Neill can now stand at an Executive press conference with any credibility, integrity and authority and ask the people of Northern Ireland to listen to her. Any normal political leader would be considering their position.”

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong said it is “time that Michelle steps aside”.

Speaking to the BBC, she added: “I hope that Michelle O’Neill and other members of Sinn Fein will look back on this, and while they are saying that while they were in the cortege or in the church everything was all abided by, the whole situation was not a good picture to send out whenever the rule makers for Northern Ireland didn’t apply those rules to that funeral.”

PA