Sinn Féin need to reflect, accept and apologise for damage done by funeral actions, says Armstrong

Sinn Féin need to reflect, accept and apologise for the damage done to the Executive’s pandemic messaging, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said.

Alliance Chief Whip Ms Armstrong was speaking after a cross-party motion challenging Sinn Fein’s actions was debated in the Assembly. The motion passed this evening.

“Many of us have made sacrifices during lockdown. The rules are difficult but the vast majority of people have taken them on board to help keep the R number down and the spread of COVID-19 limited. It has been hard but the public’s actions have helped save lives, especially as we are not free from this virus yet,” said the Strangford MLA.

“That is why Alliance understands the public outrage and anger over the scenes at Mr Storey’s funeral. Senior members of Sinn Féin did not act in accordance with the health regulations. Others have had to wait until it is safe to come together to remember their loved ones who have died during the pandemic, why did Sinn Féin feel they could be treated differently?

“The Deputy First Minister has apologised to any families hurt by her actions and I accept that. But both she and Sinn Féin need to go further. This crisis has touched every person and therefore when anyone breaks the rules, it is personal.

“Everyone is looking to the Executive to lead us through this pandemic and until June 30, that message was working – it was collegiate and filling the public with confidence the First and Deputy First Ministers in particular were working well together. But that has now fallen apart. We need to rebuild the public’s trust and do all we can to work through this crisis and the difficulties we are yet to face. This virus is still a threat to everyone and that’s why the message of social distancing, washing your hands and keeping safe is as important now as it was in March.

“Our way of government relies on trust and confidence. We are here to serve the public, take difficult decisions and work together to get out of this crisis. It’s time Sinn Féin demonstrated they are here to do the same by reflecting on the damage done and accepting the issue they created, by apologising.”