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Arlene Foster. File photo Alamy Stock Photo
Northern Ireland

Unionists complain of 'too much' discussion about Sinn Féin in wake of Queen Elizabeth's death

The new king met Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill and DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson this week.

FORMER NORTHERN IRELAND First Minister Arlene Foster has said she believes there has been “far too much” discussion about the meeting between King Charles and members on Sinn Féin.

Foster described the meeting as “not really big news” as party members had met Charles, and his predecessor Queen Elizabeth, on previous occasions.

The new king met Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill and DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson on Tuesday, as well as Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey

The meeting discussed the Northern Ireland Protocol and the current impasse in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Writing an opinion piece in the Express the day after the meeting, Foster referenced the king’s trip to Hillsborough Castle in Co Down for the meeting.

“Inside the Castle the politicians had assembled and much has been said (far too much in my view) about the meeting between Sinn Féin members and the new King,” Foster wrote.

“For anyone who covers and knows Northern Ireland this is not really big news, as Sinn Féin members have met both the late Queen and the new King on many occasions,” she said.

“The coverage got so intense about Sinn Féin on some mainstream broadcasts that you would be forgiven for thinking the visit was about them and not marking the death of our sovereign and the first visit of her successor!

“Despite all of that, the King got his message across about continuing the work of his mother in Northern Ireland and indeed his work which he started many years ago.”

Jim Allister, Leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice and the party’s sole MLA, made similar complaints, suggesting that the BBC had over-focused on Sinn Féin.

“It’s unfortunate that some of the mainstream media, particularly the BBC, think that times like this, particularly the Day of Remembrance for Her Majesty in Belfast, was really about Sinn Féin when it was about Her Majesty and her wonderful service to this nation,” Allister said in a video posted to his Twitter account.

He said he believed the BBC had “lost focus of that and thought it was more important to give elevation to Sinn Féin” and that he found it “quite shocking”.

“It is quite clear that the real issue here is the fact that this nation lost a great leader in Her Majesty and we look forward to her successor putting his imprint on this nation.”

The BBC has ran countless articles, television and radio items since the death of Queen Elizabeth on 8 September.

On its website, the BBC’s Northern Ireland section has published a range of articles about King Charles’ visit this week, before, during, and after he visited the region.

Among these were an article on Queen Elizabeth’s visits to Northern Ireland and another on the sense of “mourning but celebrating” as Charles arrived. 

It published a lengthy article last week carrying the headline “Queen Elizabeth II: Northern Ireland shocked and saddened at monarch’s death” that described people paying tribute to the queen, which made no reference to Sinn Féin.

 

It has also published articles that relate to Sinn Féin, such as a piece about the party’s relationship to the queen and Speaker Maskey’s condolence speech.

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