Arlene Foster slams mainstream media for 'intense coverage' of Sinn Féin meeting King Charles III – Belfast Telegraph


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Fermoy born Sinn Féin First Minister designate of Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, greeted King Charles III when he visted Belfast
Former First Minister of Northern Ireland and ex-DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photo credit: Brian Lawless/PA
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Dame Arlene Foster has accused ‘mainstream’ broadcasters of excessive coverage of Sinn Féin’s meetings with King Charles III.
Many news outlets have focused 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 May 5 Assembly election. 
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. 
But Dame Arlene hit out, as did TUV leader Jim Allister, who claimed the BBC “gave elevation and promotion to Sinn Fein”.
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”.
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"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 she ‘now knows he’ll make a great King’. 

Fermoy born Sinn Féin First Minister designate of Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, greeted King Charles III when he visted Belfast

Dame Arlene, who attended the service for the new King at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on Tuesday, referred to the attendance of the Irish President, Michael D Higgins.
"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 Co 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.”
Separately, TUV leader Jim Allister criticised the BBC for its coverage of the visit of King Charles III, claiming the broadcaster “gave elevation and promotion to Sinn Fein”.
Speaking in a video next to a war memorial in Ballymena, Mr Allister said: “In reading many of the inscriptions on the very many tokens of gratitude to Her Majesty here in the Memorial Park in Ballymena, it’s very clear that Elizabeth II was held in very high esteem, and rightly so, by the people of this town.
“We have all recognised we have lost a great monarch, the like of whom will never be seen again and this being a very loyal town to the institution of the monarchy, it demonstrates that.
“Throughout this week there have been very many outpourings of sympathy for the loss of Her Majesty.
“It’s unfortunate that some of the mainstream media – particularly the BBC – think that times like this, particularly yesterday’s day of remembrance for Her Majesty in Belfast, was really about Sinn Fein, when it was about Her Majesty and her wonderful service to this nation.
“And the manner in which the BBC – particularly locally the Northern Ireland BBC – lost focus of that and thought that it was more important to give elevation and promotion to Sinn Fein, I found it quite shocking.
“It is quite clear that the real issue here is the fact that this nation has lost a great leader in Her Majesty and we look forward to her successor putting his imprint on this nation, and with heart and with voice we say ‘God Save The King’.”

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BBC NI declined to respond to Mr Allister’s comments.
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 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 UUP leader Doug Beattie, Alliance leader Naomi Long and the SDLP’s Matthew O’Toole.

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