Aontu: Sinn Fein’s hands tied on Boris Johnson row due to Bobby Storey funeral

A former Sinn Fein TD says that the party has apparently offered no criticism of Boris Johnson and his garden party row because republicans are vulnerable to claims of hypocrisy over its handling of the Bobby Storey funeral.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 8:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th January 2022, 8:26 pm

The attendance of Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the funeral of the senior republican in the summer of 2020 led to a crisis in NI politics, as party members were accused of breaching Covid regulations by attending.

Mr Johnson apologised on Wednesday in relation to a drinks party held in the garden of 10 Downing Street during the height of lockdown. However, unusually, Sinn Fein appear to have offered no criticism of his actions.

Aontu leader Peadar Toibin, a former Sinn Fein TD, told the News Letter: “There is no doubt that Sinn Fein’s hands are tied in relation to commenting on what is happening in Westminster at the moment.

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Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín

“Because if they were to articulate condemnation towards the Tories, very quickly people would ask, ‘Well what about what Sinn Fein has done in the past?’

“It would be hypocritical for them to throw stones at Tories in this situation given their own past.

“They have no option but to stay silent on this.

“Normally if they had an opportunity to underline the hypocrisy that is happening with the Tories in London. they would take it.

“In fairness it is an incredible position to have a British prime minister telling people to stay at home and sacrifice so much of their social and human interaction, and on another level facilitate a party in his back garden. But Sinn Fein’s hands are tied because they have gone outside of the understood parameters of behaviour during this crisis as well.”

He argued that Sinn Fein has not wanted to cause division among voters on the many issues in relation to Covid in society across the island, for example, with vaccine passports.

“This may be because they ran that significant public funeral in Belfast during the Covid crisis and they feel that they can’t comment. In the south I think that is because they are waiting for government and they have been very cautious not to put a foot wrong.”

Sinn Fein was invited to comment.

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