Wednesday 7 December 2016

'Arlene's on fire': NI First Minister criticised for singing at scene of horrific IRA firebombing

Ivan Little

Published 02/11/2016 | 02:30

First Minister Arlene Foster was all smiles as she arrived to deliver her keynote speech to delegates at the DUP conference Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
First Minister Arlene Foster was all smiles as she arrived to deliver her keynote speech to delegates at the DUP conference Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has apologised for singing 'Arlene's on fire' at the La Mon House Hotel, which was the scene of a horrific firebombing by the IRA.

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The families of victims slammed the DUP leader and delegates for "dancing on the graves" of the 12 people who lost their lives, at the party's annual conference in Belfast on Saturday.

Mrs Foster telephoned a husband of one of the victims, Billy McDowell, yesterday morning after he criticised the DUP's "insensitivity" in singing the song at the place where an IRA firebomb exploded 38 years ago.

Mr McDowell's wife, Lily, who died in 2014, was the most seriously injured of the 30 people hurt in the blast.

Mr McDowell said he was initially told that the 'Arlene's on fire' song - a version of the Northern Ireland football anthem which was adapted from '90s pop song 'Freed from Desire' - was "just young people having fun".

The party issued an apology to Mr McDowell and the other La Mon families, insisting no offence was intended.

A contrite Mrs Foster yesterday spent 10 minutes on the telephone.

"Mrs Foster rang me to say she was extremely sorry to have upset the La Mon victims.

"She said it was a spur of the moment thing and shouldn't have happened," he said.

Mr McDowell said he had accepted Mrs Foster's apology.

Irish Independent

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