Gerry Adams declares Bobby Storey a ‘selfless’ and ‘gentle’ man as large crowd gathers for funeral

Gerry Adams has called dead IRA intelligence chief a “selfless” and “gentle” individual.

Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 1:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 9:27 pm
Gerry Adams at Bobby Storey's funeral

It came after a large crowd of people assembled on the Andresonstown Road / Falls Road in republican-dominated west Belfast to watch the cortege of senior PIRA man Bobby Storey travel along the road.

Applause broke out and a number of people crossed themselves as the hearse passed by with his coffin inside, led by pipers, en route to the cemetery.

A trio of black taxis also led the hearse.

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The coffin en route to the chapel

As well as bystanders in regular clothing watching on, there were hundreds of people in white shirts and black ties standing at intervals along the roadside.

Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, and Michelle O’Neill all walked beside one another along the Falls Road – a journey that took the best part of an hour, with mourners lining the route the whole way.

A day earlier Ms O’Neill and Arlene Foster both appealed to people to observe the coronavirus rules.

His funeral mass had taken place late morning at St Agnes’ Chapel.Belfast Sinn Fein described him as a “soldier, leader and visionary”.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th June 2020 The funeral of Bobby Storey has taken place in Belfast. Photo by Philip Magowan / Press Eye

At the graveyard, Michelle O’Neill read a poem by Robert Frost, called ‘The Road Not Taken’, as about 3,000 people watched online via the Sinn Fein Facebook page.

It ends by saying:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.”

And Ms O’Neill ended by saying: “Thank you Bobby for taking the road less travelled. We will continue on your path.”

Gerry Adams then gave an address where he praised the UK NHS for trying to save Mr Storey’s life following an unsuccessful lung operation.

Mr Adams said: “I want to thank the doctors and the nurses and the surgeons and the NHS staff who fought hard to save Bob.”

He also added: “We’re proud and we’re glad that Bob and other former IRA volunteers are part of what we [Sinn Fein] are. We’re also proud of Bob and the others when they were IRA volunteers.”

He called him “Big Bob”, and said: “Scores, perhaps hundreds, could tell of Bobby’s many quiet private acts of kindness.

“I’ve known many sound people but Bobby was out on his own.

“The craic around Bobby was mighty.”

He hailed his “infectious humour” and said few disliked him – except MI5, the British Army and prison governors.

He said that Mr Storey had been the de facto brain behind the Maze escape, during which a prison officer was shot in the head.

He had hoped that the break-out would “ruin Maggie Thatcher’s life”.

By the time he was released in 1998, the year of the Belfast Agreement, he had been 44, and had spent 20 of those years in jail.

He was “proud, kind, gentle, wise” as well as being an “accomplished revolutionary”, said Mr Adams, adding he was “one of the bravest people” he had ever met.

Mr Adams set out the importance of Bobby Storey to Sinn Fein by declaring that whilst historically Fine Gael is able to claim Michael Collins as one of their own, and Fianna Fail can claim Eamon De Valera, Sinn Fein are pleased to be able to claim Bobby Storey.

He concluded by saying: “England rules us only in English interests. And the time is coming when we will end English rule and replace it with governance by the people of this island, for the people of this island.”

He derided Boris Johnson as a “non-entity” and said: “They cannot rule us. They have not our consent to rule us. That’s what Bobby believed. Thank you Bob...

“And for the rest of us who are already activists, it’s time to be more active. And if we’re not activists, this is the day we should start.”

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