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The Times newspaper criticised over headline describing Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill as ‘pregnant schoolgirl’

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Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) and Michelle O'Neill (centre left) in Magherafelt in Co Londonderry (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) and Michelle O'Neill (centre left) in Magherafelt in Co Londonderry (Liam McBurney/PA)

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Michelle O'Neill

There has been criticism among some on social media after an online headline in The Times described Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill as a “pregnant schoolgirl”.

It comes as the media across the UK and worldwide reacted to the Assembly election result and the emergence of Sinn Fein as the largest party in Stormont.

The Times profile piece on Ms O’Neill, which was published on Saturday following the Assembly election result, initially had the headline “from pregnant schoolgirl to Northern Ireland’s next leader”, before it was later amended by the newspaper.

The author of the piece, journalist Rosamund Urwin, defended the article online and argued it was “talking about society’s prejudice and she says this herself”.

“I think that story is inspirational. Obviously, headlines are not written by reporters,” she added.

Some on Twitter branded the initial headline “really inappropriate” with others calling it “out of order”.

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Responding to the article, former DUP special adviser Richard Bullick wrote: “I don’t think it’s going to be news that I’m not a fan of Sinn Fein but I’m not sure this is an appropriate headline.”

However, others did defend the article with online user Sheila Fitz tweeting: “So many people getting upset about this.

“But Michelle has spoken openly about the discrimination and hardship she faced as a teenage mother. And how it made her resilient. She is treated fairly in the article.

“Headlines sell stories after all and it’s a good story.”

Emma Rainey added: “The rest of the article wasn't framed this way - it was actually nice. I'm glad to see the headline at least has been amended from what I can see.”

Sinn Fein has been contacted for a response.

The result of Northern Ireland’s Assembly election widely made headlines across the globe as the world’s media attention was fixed on how Stormont is set to shape up.

There was significant interest on both sides of the Atlantic, as news organisations led their main bulletins and front pages on the story.

Footage of Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill arm-in-arm as they emerged in the count centre to scenes of celebration on Saturday dominate many of the broadcasts.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) and Michelle O'Neill (centre left) in Magherafelt in Co Londonderry (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) and Michelle O'Neill (centre left) in Magherafelt in Co Londonderry (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) and Michelle O'Neill (centre left) in Magherafelt in Co Londonderry (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Sunday Times described Northern Ireland as being in a "febrile state" as they said Sinn Fein’s election result would reawaken tensions over Brexit.

Meanwhile, the Observer newspaper led on the nationalist party’s historic result in the election which saw them top the polls and return 27 MLAs – describing victory in the vote as "seismic".

The Independent claimed the result “heralds a new era” for Northern Ireland after Sinn Fein emerged as the largest party for the first time.

Coverage was significant south of the border too, with the Irish Times focusing on calls from Secretary of State Brandon Lewis for the DUP to return to Stormont and nominate a deputy First Minister.

The Irish Mail on Sunday focused on comments from Tanaiste Leo Varadkar that a border poll is now less likely following the election.

There was also significant interest in the USA over the events of the last few days, as American newspapers and media outlets digested the result.

The New York Times claimed as Britain “turned away from the EU, Northern Ireland turned to Sinn Fein”.


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