POLITICAL parties in the North have suspended their election campaigns as a mark of respect to the victims of the Manchester bomb attack.
Twenty-two people died and around 59 others were injured in the suspected suicide bombing in Manchester Arena. The attack happened shortly after 10.30pm last night as a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande had just ended.
Alliance Leader Naomi Long expressed her sympathy and condolences to the people of Manchester.
She said: “This news is absolutely heartbreaking, especially when you consider how many children and teenagers will have been at this concert.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Manchester, particularly the bereaved and injured. My deepest thanks also go to the emergency services, who had to deal with the aftermath.
“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: “As a mark of respect to those killed and injured, Alliance will also be suspending General Election campaigning activity today.”
Sinn Féin leader in the north Michelle O'Neill condemned the attack and expressed sympathy with the families of those killed and injured.
She said: "The attack at the Manchester arena which has left 22 dead and injured so many others was horrific and I condemn it.
"I, like many others, watched with shock and horror as the events unfolded overnight and the scale of this terrible attack became known.
"For something like that to happen while young people are out enjoying themselves is unthinkable.”
She added: "My thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who have lost loved ones and those who were injured, as well as the emergency services who attended the scene of this tragedy.
"Sinn Féin has cancelled all election campaigning for the day."
DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: "Terrorism must never win."
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said: “Today is a day for unity of purpose, not party political difference. I have therefore suspended the SDLP’s election campaign for 24 hours as a mark of respect.
“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.”