Arlene Foster acknowledges "clumsy" wording in a tweet on loyalist rioting

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Arlene Foster has acknowledged using "clumsy" wording in a tweet about last week's loyalist rioting in Northern Ireland.

The DUP leader said there was no doubt those engaging in violence at a community interface in west Belfast last week were breaking the law.

In a tweet condemning the hijack and destruction of a bus during riots on the loyalist Shankill Road last week, Mrs Foster suggested the incident would take the focus off the "real law breakers" in Sinn Fein.

She was making reference to the attendance of senior Sinn Fein members at a mass republican funeral last year when tight Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings were in place.

Appearing before her Assembly scrutiny committee, Mrs Foster was challenged on the remark by SDLP committee chair Colin McGrath.

The DUP leader suggested Mr McGrath was making mischief.

"Of course people who riot, people who injure police officers, people who destroy their own communities, are breaking the law. That's very clear for everybody to see," she said.

Of course people who riot, people who injure police officers, people who destroy their own communities, are breaking the law. That's very clear for everybody to see.

Arlene Foster

"I hope, chair, that there's not going to be any mischief made today about clumsy wording when I have been unequivocal in my condemnation of violence from all sides during this past week and indeed, can I say, I've always been unequivocal in my condemnation of violence throughout my long time in elected office," Mrs Foster added.

Arlene Foster has insisted a "cultural war" is being waged on unionism by Irish republicans.

She claimed genuinely felt concerns within the loyalist community were being "dismissed" and she denied that unionist political leaders who highlighted those concerns were stoking tensions.

The First Minister also expressed concern at any suggestion multi-million pound spending commitments by the Executive in some of the areas impacted by the recent violence - through Stormont's Communities in Transition initiative - was an effort to buy off the rioters