‘COVID-19 crisis has brought us closer together’ – N Ireland’s political leaders

The joint leaders of Northern Ireland's devolved government say their response to COVID-19 shows unionists and nationalists can work together.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill had been sharing power for just 10 weeks when confronted with the global coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Foster, the DUP leader, said: "We had to deal with that in a very fast time and I think we have shown we can work together in difficult times.

Foster: We need to prevent a second spike in NI

"I'm not saying it's a good thing we've had a global pandemic but I think it shows that we have come together and that we can work together in the way that we have," she added.

Ms O'Neill, who disagreed on the timing of school closures at the start of the crisis, dismissed it as "a difference of emphasis but not necessarily in approach".


The Sinn Fein leader at Stormont said: "Executive colleagues have worked very closely together to try to chart our way through this as best we can with that one objective, to try to save lives."

Foster and O'Neill
Power-sharing resumes in NI Assembly

Mrs Foster is staunchly pro-Union and Ms O'Neill passionate about Irish unity but they insist their polar-opposite views on the constitutional question are no hindrance to their political partnership.

More from Arlene Foster

The DUP leader said: "Michelle and I come from completely different political backgrounds, we have different political philosophies but there are things that we share in common.

Image: Mrs Foster is staunchly pro-Union

"It's the common ground which we've been trying to concentrate on during this crisis and indeed throughout the devolved experience and that's what's driving us."

"We will differ from time to time. I think Michelle has used the phrase 'to differ but to differ well' and I think that is the key to all of this," she added.

Ms O'Neill agreed: "I believe the past number of monthsRead More – Source