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The COVID investigation continues today with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Michelle O’Neill giving evidence under oath.

She has apologized for attending republican Bobby Storey’s funeral during the pandemic, after which she and other Sinn Fein politicians were accused of breaking COVID rules.

The First Minister told the inquiry: “I know my actions have angered the families too, and I am truly sorry for that. I am sorry I went, and I am sorry for the damage that has been done since.”

When asked if she realized the anger that going to the funeral would cause, she replied: ‘I didn’t know that, but I should have.

“I have said publicly a number of times how sorry I am, and I am absolutely sorry, from the bottom of my heart.”

‘I led from the front’

She accepted that in doing so she damaged relationships with colleagues and public health messaging.

Ms O’Neill also “absolutely” rejected accusations that she was playing politics during the pandemic, saying she was “trying to find consensus around the board table” on issues such as school closures.

Asked about an earlier statement in the inquiry that she provided the leadership the people of Northern Ireland deserved during the pandemic, Ms O’Neill added that she “didn’t always say everything was perfect”.

“I truly believe I have led this entire pandemic from the front, as have all my executive branch colleagues,” she said.