From left: Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Michelle O’Neill at IRA veteran Bobby Storey’s funeral
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) July 3, 2020
“No family’s grief is more important than another’s.
I am particularly concerned that grieving families who have lost a loved one during the pandemic had their heartache compounded by the necessary restrictions which were in place at that time.
Not being able to have their family and friends’ support to help them through was hugely difficult.
I am also concerned that those grieving families are experiencing more hurt over recent days. I am sorry for that.”
Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland Deputy Minister Michelle O’Neill.
Sinn Fein TD Matt Carthy; Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward on The Tonight Show on Wednesday
On Today with Sarah McInerney‘s The Gathering slot, the guests were discussing Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill’s attendance at the funeral of IRA veteran Bobby Storey in Belfast
Ms O’Neill had earlier issued a statement to say sorry for any hurt caused by her attendance.
During The Gathering, Ms McInerney and Dun Laoghaire Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill had this exchange:
Sarah McInerney: “…there have been large funerals. I saw [Sinn Féin TD] Matt Carthy, for example, on the Tonight show talking about Garda Horkan’s funeral.”
Jennifer Carroll MacNeill: “The funeral of a serving guard killed in the line of duty?”
McInerney: “He was raising that as an issue, as a comparison, yes.”
Carroll MacNeill: “Yes, and the Minister for Justice attended that and that was, and but the Taoiseach didn’t attend it and the President didn’t attend it. And that’s a massive state funeral and one of the most tragic and serious things that can happen in this state. And you saw the outpouring from people all across the country, marking it in their own private ways, socially distanced Garda stations all around the country, a moment’s silence. Not even the Taoiseach, not even the president at those very unique moments where there’s a state funeral of that kind attended because it wasn’t appropriate to do so.
“There’s no way, that the nature of that funeral, the murder of a serving Garda, in the line of duty can be compared to the murder of what Mary Lou McDonald described as her friend. Totally different. Totally different.”
McInerney: “I want to bring the others in on this. But I don’t know, do you want to respond to that Martin?”
Martin Kenny: “Look, I mean, I understand there are people who are grieving and people who have been hurt through the pandemic and I understand how they are, you know, somewhat annoyed in regard to that. But there’s also a very political element to this. Our political opponents are jumping on this and indeed, you know, Dublin unionists and Fine Gael are all over this and have been for the past week and we’re used to that and we will deal with it.”
McInerney: “Ok, briefly, Jennifer.”
Carroll MacNeill: “The reason that this is a political holding to account of Sinn Fein, Sinn Fein don’t like that. Sinn Fein aren’t used to that. But if you want to be in Dail Eireann and participate as the leader of the Opposition, as you say, you should probably get used to being held to account as a normal political party. We in Fine Gael have said that we don’t believe you are a normal political party.
Kenny: “We’re quite used to it.”
Carroll MacNeill: “But if you want to engage in that way then you are…”
Talk over each other
Kenny: “More people in this country voted for us than voted for your party and they believe it.”
Meanwhile, on Virgin Media One’s Tonight show on Wednesday night, Mr Carthy appeared with newly appointed Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward when Ms O’Neill’s attendance at Mr Storey’s funeral was spoken about.
At the outset, Mr Carthy criticised Fine Gael and the DUP for attempting to score “political points”.
Matt Carthy: “There have been lots of gatherings at funerals, some of which social distancing wouldn’t have been as robust as you would have liked. And I’ve seen some people using those in response to attacks by Fine Gael and others in relation to Bobby Storey’s funeral. I would ask them to stop because I think it’s really unfair on the families concerned. I think it’s actually really, really lousy…as people, you know, politics, fair game. We’re, as a party, are used to getting attacked for all sorts of reasons but to actually use someone’s funeral…”
Ward: “Leo Varadkar didn’t even attend the funeral of Detective Horkan in Castlerea…”
Carthy: “But two government ministers…”
Ward: “Yeah, the Minister for Justice appropriately did. But normally, at a State funeral, the Taoiseach would go and he stepped back…rather than taking the media opportunity that Mary Lou and those did….”
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