Election campaigning halted in North after Manchester attack

‘Heartbreaking act of barbarism’: Northern Irish politicians condemn suicide bombing

Northern Irish parties have suspended campaigning in the Westminster general election in the wake of the Manchester bombing.

A number of election events were planned for Tuesday including the launch of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) manifesto and the unveiling of a Sinn Féin billboard in north Belfast but these were deferred as a mark of respect for those who died and were injured in the suicide bombing.

At least 22 people, including children, were killed and 59 more were injured from the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena on Monday night.

Belfast City Council opened up a book of condolences for the bereaved and injured. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) lord mayor Brian Kingston said the city "wanted to stand with the people of Manchester at this time".


Confirming that the manifesto launch would not go ahead, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the attack was a "heartbreaking act of barbarism".

"The people of Ireland understand the tragic pain of loss that those in Manchester are feeling. We stand with the people of Manchester today, unbroken, unbowed and resolutely determined to defeat those responsible," he said.

‘Terrorism must never win’

The DUP leader, Arlene Foster, in offering her condolences tweeted: "Terrorism must never win."

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the bombing was a "shocking and horrendous attack on children and young people enjoying a concert".

Sinn Féin's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill condemned the "horrific" attack. "For something like that to happen while young people are out enjoying themselves is unthinkable," she said.

The Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann also said the attack was "barbaric" while adding, "It is an attempt to destroy our way of life and will not succeed. We stand united with the people of Manchester to face down the terrorists who carried out this cowardly act."

Alliance leader Naomi Long said news of the deaths and woundings was "absolutely heartbreaking especially when you consider how many children and teenagers will have been at this concert".


“Those behind these attacks cannot be allowed to win. They try to threaten our very way of life but in doing so, inspire people to show the best of humanity by presenting generosity and compassion. That is proof good will triumph over evil,” she added.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister hoped that "unlike the IRA campaign, no UK politicians will equivocate in their response".

“Terrorism is always wrong and evil, whether the bomb is detonated by the IRA or an Islamic terrorist or anyone else,” he said.

“It will take a much bigger response by government to defeat Islamic terrorism. Indeed it is more difficult terrorism to defeat, because, unlike the cowards of the IRA, Islamic terrorists embrace death,” added Mr Allister.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times