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US envoy praises Northern Ireland as it's 'done a really good job' of tackling Covid-19

Mick Mulvaney said that the Northern Irish parties had all worked well together.

Mick Mulvaney, seated alongside Donald Trump in December 2019.
Mick Mulvaney, seated alongside Donald Trump in December 2019.
Image: Oliver Contreras/DPA/PA Images

THE US SPECIAL Envoy to Northern Ireland has praised the Executive’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that the parties “worked really well together”. 

“I don’t want to minimize the impact of coronavirus on individual, families and nations around the world. But let’s face it, Northern Ireland has done a really really good job in large part because all of the government has been able to work so well together,” Mick Mulvaney said this morning. 

Mulvaney, a former White House Chief of Staff, was appearing on BBC NI’s Sunday Politics programme. 

The Northern Irish Executive, which drew praise for the response to the coronavirus pandemic, has faced a rocky few days following the attendance of Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the funeral of veteran republican Bobby Storey.

Critics and other parties in the power-sharing government accuse her and her Sinn Féin colleagues of flouting Covid-19 restrictions. 

Mulvaney, who insisted that US President Donald Trump takes an active interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland, said that the government now had to build on that positive response. 

“It’s good news, in terms of working together. How do we turn that shared interest in protecting the health of the nation, [to] now transition into a shared vision on the economic development of the nation?” he said. 

Mulvaney was appointed to the special envoy role in March. 

“I’m chomping at the bit to get over there and start doing this face to face,” Mulvaney said, expressing his hope that he can visit the North soon. 

He said that the way Northern Ireland had handled Covid-19 would prove to potential investors that it had a serious, well-organised government and infrastructure. 

Describing the mindset of some businesses, he said: “Covid was a test. And if you can handle Covid properly, whatever the next challenge is, maybe you can handle that well as well, maybe that’s where we want our supply chain.”

To date, there have been over 800 deaths from Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the crisis began, according to the latest data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. 

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Stormont motion

On the same programme, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long confirmed that MLAs in Stormont will sign a motion criticising Sinn Féin ministers for their attendance the the funeral of Bobby Storey. 

While Sinn Féin representatives have defended the decision to attend, the four other parties in the Executive have been vocal about the detrimental impact it might have on public safety in the weeks to come. 

Long said that O’Neill needed to offer an explanation to Stormont for the “damage done”. 

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