Bobby Storey funeral: bereaved families’ grief compounded by lack of PPS action

As the fallout from the Bobby Storey funeral continued yesterday, several more bereaved members of the public revealed how their grief was compounded by the Sinn Fein-organised mass gathering.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 4:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 4:58 pm
A crowd listens to former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams speak during the funeral of Bobby Storey at Milltown cemetery in west Belfast on June 30, 2020. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

One woman from Portadown who lost four siblings, including a brother to Covid, during the pandemic said the behaviour of Sinn Fein has added to her own grief, while a grieving daughter described the PPS decision not to prosecute anyone over the Storey funeral last June as a “kick in the teeth”.

It was announced on Tuesday that no action would be taken against the 24 Sinn Fein members who were investigated over their attendance at the 2,000-strong funeral of the former IRA leader.

In response, many of those who abided by the regulations – which were introduced by the NI Executive to reduce the spread of the coronavirus – have vented their anger on both social media and news outlets.

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One woman who spoke to the News Letter said her family, unlike Bobby Storey’s, had been denied the comfort of seeing the hundreds who would have attended her mum’s funeral last July in normal circumstances.

“For me this whole situation with Bobby Storey is not a green and orange issue for me, but it is upsetting to see that when we abided by the restrictions... and none of us would have got away with the scale of funeral that Bobby Storey had,” she said.

The 30-year-old from Newtownards, who did not wish to be named, added: “There is a real sense of honour and respect if you see many people turn out – it is a real testament to how loved that person was. A lot of people wanted to pay their respects, but we were allowed just a very small group to stand in the car park.

“I found it made the grieving process very difficult, because we weren’t able to have a funeral like we would have had in normal times. We were tasked with having to write a guest list for ten people who could attend her funeral.”

On Twitter, another grieving daughter, whose mum’s funeral took place within days of Bobby Storey’s, said the PPS decision not to prosecute anyone in relation to the Storey funeral was “a kick in the teeth to those who abided by the law,” and added: “We were told we’d have to follow the hearse to Roselawn, get out to transfer the flowers into our car and stand at the gate to watch hearse drive away. Who wants to say goodbye like that? Those at Bobby Storey’s funeral didn’t have to.”

On the BBC’s Nolan radio show, several callers gave emotional accounts of how their families have been affected by both the flouting of the regulations by senior Sinn Fein figures, and the decision not to charge anyone involved.

Caller Doreen from Portadown lost her sister in September last year and then two brothers within 10 days of each other in November.

Doreen described the burial process for her second brother, who died from Covid, as “heart breaking” due to the restrictions in place.

She said: “He was taken from the hospital to the graveyard and there was nothing. We had to stand away and watch over a wall and through the gates. It was really heart breaking.”

Doreen said the mass Sinn Fein gathering for the Bobby Storey funeral, and the fallout from it, has added to her family’s grief.

“It’s really painful and it’s broken my heart. It’s all come up again,” she said.

The PPS has agreed to review its ‘no prosecution’ decision following a request from Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie on behalf of a constituent.

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