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O'Neill claims she 'never deviated' from health advice

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Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill

PA

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin has been accused in the North of displaying "brass neck hypocrisy" after Michelle O'Neill claimed she had "never deviated" from public health advice.

The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister was attacked after she accused the DUP of working against the executive and public health team in handling the pandemic - eliciting uproar from unionist MLAs.

First Minister Arlene Foster hit back at Ms O'Neill's remarks by firmly laying part of the blame for Northern Ireland's six-week lockdown at Sinn Féin's feet after the Bobby Storey funeral row was reignited yet again.

It comes as chief scientific adviser Prof Ian Young warned the tougher restrictions are necessary as inaction would result in thousands of deaths.

Yesterday, a further 12 people with Covid-19 died in the North bringing the death toll to 1,166. Another 510 new cases of the virus were also recorded.

Failure

Ms Foster said the "draconian" and sweeping measures, starting on St Stephen's Day, were indicative of a failure of society as a whole.

She cited, however, that Sinn Féin's presence at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey in June - when there were strict limitations in place - damaged public health messaging.

"Before then compliance in Northern Ireland was very good, and in fact we were the envy of other colleagues in the United Kingdom," said the DUP leader. "We've seen a breakdown in compliance and I very, very much regret that to be the case."

Ms O'Neill had earlier hit out at the DUP's role in handling the Covid crisis, accusing the party of working against the executive and public health team.

"I have never deviated from the public health advice, in a five-party coalition," she said.

"The DUP has worked against the entire public health team and the executive because there's a collective will in the other parties to do more at different times throughout the pandemic."


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