THE 24-YEAR-OLD daughter of Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill was among those who condemned DUP leader Arlene Foster for comments she made referring to her mother’s blonde hair and make-up.
When asked by the Sunday Independent what word she would associate with Mrs O’Neill, the DUP leader answered, “blonde”.
“Michelle is very attractive,” she said. “She presents herself very well and she always is, you know, her appearance is always very ‘the same’. You never see her without her make-up. You never see her without her hair (looking) perfect.”
On Sunday Michelle O’Neill’s daughter, who was said to be ‘furious’, tweeted, “Disgraceful Arlene, mummy has blonde hair yes, she also has class, smart & strong leadership skills that empower the great women around her.”
In an obvious reference to the controversy, Alliance leader Naomi Long also tweeted yesterday, “Now I know what to say when asked what skills I can bring to politics. Red hair – don’t care.”
Mrs Foster has come under scathing criticism for the comments and has been accused of being sexist.
Mid Ulster MLA Linda Dillon, who is a close friend of Mrs O’Neill, called on the DUP leader to withdraw her comments.
She said, ‘For any woman to refer to another woman in a leadership role in that way, no matter what their party, is unacceptable. I call on Arlene Foster to withdraw her comment. What kind of leader does that show her to be?
“We recently held a women’s conference and the major thing to come out of that was for women to be supportive of other women across the board and in leadership, not just in Sinn Féin.
“Michelle is doing that and is an excellent leader and both men and women feel that way about her.”
Mrs Dillon also pointed to claims by the DUP leader that comments about her during the RHI controversy were motivated by misogyny.
She added, “This offends every woman in the North regardless of their politics. She should be using her role to encourage women into politics but this is about abusing women in politics.”
No-one from the DUP was available for comment.