'not big news' | 

Arlene Foster slams media for ‘intense coverage’ of Sinn Féin meeting King Charles III

‘One could be forgiven for thinking the visit was about them [Sinn Féin] and not marking the death of our sovereign and the first visit of her successor!’

Arlene Foster

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill greeted King Charles III when he visited Belfast

Niamh CampbellBelfast Telegraph

Dame Arlene Foster has hit out at ‘mainstream broadcasts’ for what she believes has been overly extensive coverage of Sinn Féin meeting King Charles III on Tuesday.

Many news outlets have focussed on the new monarch’s encounter with First Minister-designate Michelle O’Neill and her party colleague, Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey.

It is the first time a sovereign head of state has met with members of Sinn Féin since they officially became the largest party in Northern Ireland after the Assembly election earlier this year.

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill greeted King Charles III when he visited Belfast

Various political commentators and journalists have praised the republican party’s ‘respectful’ approach to the newly ascended King Charles and his Queen Consort Camilla, following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II last week.

Writing in The Express, Dame Arlene suggested one could “be forgiven for thinking the visit was about them [Sinn Féin] and not marking the death of our sovereign and the first visit of her successor!”

"Inside the [Hillsborough] Castle the politicians had assembled and much has been said (far too much in my view) about the meeting between Sinn Fein members and the new King,” the former First Minister wrote.

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

“The coverage got so intense about Sinn Fein 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!”

The Fermanagh native also praised the people of Northern Ireland for ‘rising to the occasion’ of the King’s visit and said ‘now knows he’ll make a great King’.

She also attended the service for the new King at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on Tuesday, and brought attention to the fact that the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, had made an appearance.

"The President of Ireland, as he is styled, who could not bring himself to attend an ecumenical service to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland last year was present on this occasion to remember our gracious Queen. Progress of sorts,” she continued.

The GB News presenter also made reference to the death of King Charles’ great-uncle, who was killed by an IRA bomb.

"The late Queen made a historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011, the first since the Republic ceded from the United Kingdom, and she showed tremendous leadership in reaching out to those who would not be royalists by nature.

“She did all that despite the pain that she had endured personally when the IRA murdered Lord Louis Mountbatten in County Sligo in 1979.

“She and her late husband were very close to Philip’s uncle and their son, the now King saw him as a mentor. Yet she chose the Christian path of love and forgiveness, and in her role as monarch has influenced so many to show tolerance and respect for difference.”

Whilst attending Hillsborough Castle on Tuesday, the Royal family’s residence in Northern Ireland, King Charles spoke to Dame Arlene’s successor as leader of the DUP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, as well as Michelle O’Neill about the NI Assembly and its current impasse.

Sir Jeffrey reportedly told the new monarch that there are positive sounds coming from the EU side and that he was hopeful matters would “progress”.

Among those attending the reception was a broad mix of sports, politics and business people, including Alliance leader Naomi Long and SDLP’s Matthew O’Toole.


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