DUP and Sinn Fein politicians say pandemic has brought their parties closer together
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DUP and Sinn Fein politicians say pandemic has brought their parties closer together

ARLENE FOSTER and Michelle O’Neill believe the Coronavirus pandemic has brought their two parties closer together. 

In an interview broadcast on Sky News, the First Minister of Northern Ireland and her deputy opened up about the way COVID-19 has affected their lives on a personal and professional level. 

"We only came back into government after three years out of government on the 11th of January. We knew there would be challenges in front of us because we are a five party Executive, then in a very short period of time we were dealing with a global pandemic," Arlene Foster explained. 

"I think that we have shown that we can work together in difficult times. 

"I'm not saying it's a good thing that we have had a global pandemic but I think it has shown that we have come together and we can work together.” 

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The DUP leader’s sentiments were echoed by Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill who admitted that, while there have been differences of opinion along the way, the two have found a way to work together effectively. 

"We were thrust into this very quickly after the Executive being restored and that in itself is challenging but I think that the Executive colleagues have worked really closely together to try and chart our way through this as best we can - with that one objective, to try and save lives.” 

"We find it as hard as everybody else," she added. 

"We are political leaders in a time of crisis and all the family time that you do actually give up because you are serving the public - that's all challenging. 

"But we also have the same challenges personally as everybody else. My mummy was hospitalised over this - Arlene's mum was also. We both have all those things to deal with at home as well as trying to politically lead at this time of crisis. 

"I think sometimes people think politicians are people apart, that somehow we live a different reality - our reality is the same as everybody else's." 

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Mrs. Foster also acknowledged Northern Ireland was taking its own approach to the pandemic – one that different to both Ireland’s and the rest of the UK. 

Whether that proves correct, she added, only time will tell.