Bobby Storey: Michelle O’Neill says sorry at Covid Inquiry

Video explanation, Michelle O’Neill says sorry about Storey’s funeral in Covid Inquiry

  • author, Mary Louise Connolly
  • Role, BBC News NI

First Minister Michelle O’Neill has apologized for attending the funeral of former Sinn Féin leader Bobby Storey.

Ms O’Neill was Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2020 to 2022, the period in which the Covid pandemic began.

She, along with the then First Minister, Arlene Foster, was jointly responsible for leading the Executive’s response in Northern Ireland.

“My actions have exacerbated the harm. My actions have also angered the families. I am sorry to go and I am sorry for the hurt I have caused.”

Ms O’Neill had previously apologized for the harm caused by her actions and for any undermining of the public health message, but not for her attendance. She once said She would “never apologize for attending a friend’s funeral.”

When asked by committee chair Baroness Hallett if she was aware of the hurt and anger at the time, Ms O’Neill replied: “I didn’t know that, and I should have known that.”

Minutes of an executive meeting after the funeral reveal remarks from Ms O’Neill, in which she asked fellow executives to “separate their views of Mr Storey from her actions”.

Mrs O’Neill said she had been invited by the family, that she was honored to attend, that Mr Storey was a huge figure and that thousands wanted to be there.

She said people vote with their feet and there was no dilution of the overall message and no intent to offend.

Within those minutes, her party colleague Conor Murphy said the rules had been relaxed and people had a right to their opinions.

Comment on the photo, Michelle O’Neill attended Bobby Storey’s funeral in the company of senior Sinn Fein politicians including leader Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams.

Analysis: O’Neill’s apology goes further than before

By Jane McCormack, BBC News NI political correspondent

Michelle O’Neill is facing one of her toughest days yet in frontline politics.

Since taking up the top job at Stormont, she has styled herself as “a First Minister for everyone”, but within minutes of being sworn in she came under pressure from an investigation into her leadership as deputy First Minister in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis. .

The political fallout from Bobby Storey’s funeral is well documented and we know that it damaged relationships around the executive table.

Although she apologized for the hurt her actions had caused at the time, Ms O’Neill had previously been recorded as saying: “I would never apologize for attending my friend’s funeral.”

Now, nearly four years later, she has now gone so far as to issue an apology for it.

But she went on to say that despite the impact on the public’s adherence to the rules, that was the only time she felt her leadership had failed during the pandemic.

Whether or not these actions undermine everything she did will be a question she will face again and again in today’s investigation.

Comment on the photo, Health Minister Robin Swann said on Monday that the presence of senior Sinn Féin politicians at the funeral meant the executive had lost public confidence.

“Playing politics”

The UK Covid inquiry has been shown an exchange of letters in which Baroness Foster accused Ms O’Neill of publicly undermining Health Secretary Robin Swann.

The messages were shared on 21 March 2020, when Baroness Foster said the Deputy First Minister was “playing politics when things are most serious”.

“It is very disappointing but I am not surprised,” she added in her message.

Ms O’Neill said the messages did not reflect any difference in the way governments around the world were trying to “manage and cope”.

Image source, UK Covid Inquiry

When lead counsel on the inquiry, Claire Dobbin, told Michelle O’Neill that she and other fellow executives were playing politics, Ms O’Neill replied: “I completely refute that.”

She said that the exchange of WhatsApp messages reflects the difficulty they are facing.

The lawyer noted that it was not a “mature discussion” between the two leaders. Ms O’Neill said she showed one exchange at a time.

Ms O’Neill said the pandemic was a “terrible time for any decision-maker”.

In the first weeks, executives were “relying too heavily on the health approach” and lessons must be learned for the future, she said.

When asked if it would be too easy to say that was the Department of Health’s response and that they were leading it?

Ms O’Neill responded that that was “the reality of the circumstances”.

School closures

Regarding school closures, Ms O’Neill said: “Sitting around and doing nothing is very dangerous.”

She said she spoke out about closing schools to “save lives.”

Ms O’Neill said schools were closing in the Republic of Ireland and the public in Northern Ireland were at a loss.

A two-island approach “would have served us much better,” she said.

Ms O’Neill described the lockdowns as a huge first decision taken by the executive collectively.

She said they had been advised by the chief medical officer but the closure was a collective executive decision.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected