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Michelle O’Neill admits relationship with public was damaged over Bobby Storey funeral


Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill. Photo: Brian Lawless.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill. Photo: Brian Lawless.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill. Photo: Brian Lawless.

The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill has said she is attempting to repair her relationship with the public after the fallout of attending the funeral of Bobby Storey.

Ms O’Neill admitted she regretted the fallout that came after the funeral and said it was “never my attention to compound anyone’s misery”.

Speaking with Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, the Deputy First Minister admitted the issue caused hurt to many.

“It is about repairing my relationship with the public, I would never have set out to compound anyone’s hurt.

“It's been a really challenging time for so many that haven't had the chance to have funerals and wakes in the traditional Irish way in which we grieve so you know I regret that I would in any way, you know, compound anybody’s hurt.

“I would offer that up to anybody that's lost a loved one and feels hurt by what I would have done, you know I'm Deputy First Minister for all. I serve all the people, and I regret that, you know, the fallout that came afterwards.”

Ms O’Neill admitted her attendance at the funeral during the height of the Covid-19 crisis undermined the public health message and hoped her leadership since the funeral has helped mend the relationship with the people of Northern Ireland.

The decision by the PSNI not to prosecute Sinn Féin members in attendance of the funeral, which was in breach of Covid-19 regulations, has been seen as partly to blame for the current unrest in the North.

“This happened last year and since then I've continued to lead us through the Covid crisis and I've continued to try to make the right decisions and do the right thing by people because that's ultimately all you can do in the pandemic.

“Bobby was a very important person to me and he would be the first person to say he would never want to be treated differently because he fought this whole life for equality

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I'm very conscious that his family are probably watching and their grief was thrust into the media as well so, on reflection, yes, I think we would all look to see what could be done differently,” Deputy First Minister O’Neill said.

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