Terror attacks designed to spread fear must be met with a “business as usual” attitude, Ian Paisley has said.
Responding to the incident in London on Saturday night – where seven people were murdered and three Islamic extremists shot dead by police – the DUP election candidate for North Antrim said it would be “madness to concede any ground to terror”.
These terror attacks are attacks on our freedom and democracy
Mr Paisley also called for tight security at polling stations for Thursday’s general election.
“People must feel safe especially at election time,” he said.
“Every effort must be made to protect polling stations across the kingdom. These terror attacks are attacks on our freedom and on our democracy designed to make us feel fear.
“Answer back with ‘business as usual’. Madness to concede any ground to terror. Stand strong, democracy prevails.”
Mr Paisley’s party leader Arlene Foster said Northern Ireland “stands with the people of London” as the city is “challenged once again by evil”.
Mrs Foster said: “We praise our security services, the police and our emergency services for their swift response and bravery.
“Terrorism depends upon fear and is the enemy of democracy. The United Kingdom is one of the greatest democracies and our Parliament is a beacon of hope around the world. Our democracy will not be thwarted or derailed by terrorism.”
Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann said his party suspended campaigning on Sunday as a mark of respect to the victims.
Mr Swann said: “Democracy will overcome terrorism. Our democratic processes and systems are a threat to those who seek their objectives through death and havoc.
“Their ways have only served to embolden and strengthen our peoples’ resolve to defeat terrorism no matter where or how it manifests itself.”
Alliance leader Naomi Long said her party also suspended election campaigning over the weekend, and added: “Despite last night’s incident and the recent attack in Manchester, we must remain strong and continue to live our lives without fear or trepidation. By doing so, these terrorists can never win.”
Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has unequivocally condemned the London terror attacks as “horrific”.
She said Sinn Fein had “cancelled all election activity for today apart from local canvassing” as a “mark of respect to those killed and injured”.
Ms O’Neill added: “My thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who have lost loved ones and those who were injured, as well as with the emergency services who attended the scenes of this tragedy.”
Her party has been widely criticised over many years for refusing to condemn acts of terror carried out in London by the IRA.
Irish president Michael D Higgins has also offered his sympathy to the families of those killed in the latest terrorist attack.
Mr Higgins said it will be condemned “by all those who believe in the rights of our public to live their lives in the public space”.
Sinn Fein president and Louth TD Gerry Adams offered his “sincere condolences” to those killed and injured, and said: “I absolutely condemn last night’s horrendous attacks in London.”