Robinson – Prime Minister’s D-Day decision is inexplicable

DUP Leader Gavin Robinson has said the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to leave the D-Day 80th Commemorations early is inexplicable but said there are also questions for Michelle O’Neill who describes herself as the “First Minister for all.”

By Gavin Robinson MP

Belfast East

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Mr Robinson said,

“The debt we owe to those men who led the D-Day landings is immeasurable. Rishi Sunak returned to the UK to participate in a democratic election campaign which is only possible because of the sacrifices on D-Day. His decision to leave early is inexplicable.

There were veterans, aged over one hundred or in their late nineties, who travelled to remember their friends and comrades on the Normandy beaches. Despite their frailty, they stayed to the end. The Prime Minister has rightly apologised. His actions nonetheless undermine the authenticity of the speech he made at the British Normandy Memorial, where he recalled the debt we owe.”

Mr Robinson continued,

“The Royal Ulster Rifles played such a critical role on D-Day with tens of thousands of soldiers from across the island of Ireland volunteering to play their part in the war effort. Their sacrifice must never be forgotten. The freedoms they helped win must always be honoured and protected.

I am glad our Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly was in Normandy this week to represent Northern Ireland alongside the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales.

With men from across the island being remembered, I am disappointed that the Deputy First Minister was alone in Normandy and the other half of the joint Office was absent.

When we consider how so many from this island have only been able to openly remember their grandparents’ war efforts in recent years, this was a missed opportunity for leadership and reconciliation.

Just as the Prime Minister has recognised that he was wrong to leave early, the First Minister should recognise it was a mistake not to stand alongside the Deputy First Minister at the memorial services in Normandy.

A First Minister for all would have paid tribute to the D-Day veterans.”

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