Arlene Foster has said she lost friends over her decision to attend the funeral of Martin McGuinness but insists that it was “the Christian thing to do”.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister spoke about the fallout from her attendance at the service for the former IRA commander-turned-Stormont leader as she appeared on RTE’s flagship Late Late Show.
“I think it was absolutely the right thing to do but there are a lot of innocent victims who felt very strongly about it at the time,” she said. “I lost friends over going to the funeral but I still believe it was the right thing to do.”
Mrs Foster’s first appearance on the RTE show has been widely interpreted as a conciliatory gesture to the Irish Republic after years of strained relations over Brexit.
The Fermanagh politician spoke about her childhood experiences of violence when the IRA attempted to murder her father and then blew up a school bus she was travelling on.
She said that she “got on quite well with Martin – you may say that is very strange given his background and given my background, but I think we have to make choices and, to me, reconciliation actually starts with the individual”.
Picture: Archive photo, dated 24th October 2016, shows First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness speaking to the media in Downing Street, London. (Jonathan Brady/PA).