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Michelle O'Neill is accused of lockdown disrespect after drive to Dublin

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Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has come under fire for travelling to Dublin at the weekend for the formation of the new Irish three-way coalition government of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green party.

The family of the new Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, could not travel to Dublin from Cork for the event, because of the Covid-19 restrictions in place in the Republic of Ireland.

The Finglas Fianna Fail councillor Keith Connolly lit the fuse for a welter of criticism of the Sinn Fein MLA when he took to social media to ask: "On a day when the incoming Taoiseach couldn't have his family in attendance due to Covid restrictions on travel why did Michelle O'Neill travel to Dublin?" Aoife Dowd wrote in response: "Agree.

"Terrible not to have Micheal Martin's family there and yet she can go wherever she likes. Smacks of disrespect."

Another commenter, Dennis Callanan, posted: "Have to agree with sentiment here.

"Bad judgment for Michelle O'Neill to travel, especially after the bad press on Council chairman nominations.

"Promotion to Lead Opposition means higher standard expected, or you cannot critique the government parties."

Others sprang to the defence of the Sinn Fein Vice-President, pointing out that the Republic's Covid-19 guidelines did not apply to people from Northern Ireland.

"Michelle O'Neill was in Dublin as vice-president of the Dail's official opposition party.

"She was not there as a family or friend of Mary Lou McDonald.

"Besides, Covid-19 travel restrictions don't apply to northerners," wrote Daniel Collins.

Defending Ms O'Neill, Meabh Mhic Giolla Cheara posted: "The VP (Mrs O'Neill) was in Dublin for a party meeting pertaining to the election of a shadow cabinet.

"FYI, there was nothing illegal in O'Neill's actions."

Sinn Fein said: “Michelle O’Neill is vice-President of Sinn Fein. For the purposes of her work in that role she travelled from Tyrone to the Convention Centre where she met with the party’s 37 TDs from across the country.”

Belfast Telegraph