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Manchester attack: Northern Ireland parties cancel election campaigning as mark of respect after terror incident

By Claire Williamson

Northern Ireland's political parties have cancelled their General Election campaigning as a mark of respect following the terror attack in Manchester.

Children are among 22 people who died after a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device, carrying out a terrorist attack at Manchester Arena.

Police say 59 people were also injured in the blast which happened at the end of a concert by US pop singer Ariana Grande attended by many children and teenagers, shortly after 10.30pm on Monday.

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The area around the arena in the city centre was quickly swamped with police and emergency services.

Read more: Manchester attack live updates: Saffie Rose Roussos (8) named as second victim - Islamic State claims responsibility - 22 killed

Announcing that the death toll had risen on Tuesday morning, Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins said: "What I can confirm is that there are children among the deceased."

He said: "This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see."

The DUP, SDLP, Alliance, UUP and Sinn Fein have all cancelled their campaigning.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "I have asked all DUP candidates to suspend their campaigning today. 22 dead, including children. Horrific injuries. Terrorism must never win."

The SDLP have also suspended their manifesto launch which was set to take place on Tuesday.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “Today the thoughts of the SDLP, our candidates and our members are with the victims of the attack on Manchester.

“This was a heartbreaking act of barbarism.

“Today is a day for unity of purpose, not party political difference. I have therefore suspended the SDLP’s election campaign for 24 hours as a mark of respect.

“The people of Ireland understand the tragic pain of loss that those in Manchester are feeling. We stand with the people of Manchester today, unbroken, unbowed and resolutely determined to defeat those responsible.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long said: "This news is absolutely heartbreaking, especially when you consider how many children and teenagers will have been at this concert.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Manchester, particularly the bereaved and injured. My deepest thanks also go to the emergency services, who had to deal with the aftermath.

"Those behind these attacks cannot be allowed to win. They try to threaten our very way of life but in doing so, inspire people to show the best of humanity by presenting generosity and compassion. That is proof good will triumph over evil.

"As a mark of respect to those killed and injured, Alliance will also be suspending General Election campaigning activity today."

In a similar move Sinn Fein cancelled their billboard launch.

Sinn Fein leader in the north Michelle  O'Neill has condemned the Manchester attack and expressed sympathy with the families of those killed and injured.

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill said: "The attack at the Manchester arena which has left 22 dead and injured so many others was horrific and I condemn it.

"I, like many others, watched with shock and horror as the events unfolded overnight and the scale of this terrible attack became known.

"For something like that to happen while young people are out enjoying themselves is unthinkable.

"My thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who have lost loved ones and those who were injured, as well as the emergency services who attended the scene of this tragedy.

"Sinn Féin has cancelled all election campaigning for the day."

Ulster Unionist party leader Robin Swann said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and those injured in the attack at the Manchester Arena last night.

"This was a barbaric attack on our young people and families out for an evening of entertainment. It is an attempt to destroy our way of life and will not succeed.

"We stand united with the people of Manchester to face down the terrorists who carried out this cowardly act. As a parent I can only imagine the hurt and pain which the parents of the children killed and injured are going through.

"I hope they gain strength to carry them through the dark days ahead and wish a speedy recovery to those injured.

"The Ulster Unionist Party will be suspending campaigning today as a mark of respect and in a stance of solidarity with the people of Manchester.”

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams also sent his condolences.

He said: "This was a shocking and horrendous attack on children and young people enjoying a concert.

"Our thoughts are with those killed and with all those who are injured."

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