Storey funeral ‘blame lies with Sinn Fein’
The ultimate “responsibility and blame” for the large scale Bobby Storey funeral during the Covid restrictions lies with Sinn Fein, Mervyn Storey has said.
Responding to the DPP’s decision not to prosecute anyone for taking part last June, following a review of the original ‘no prosecution’ decision, the DUP’s lead on the NI Policing Board said: “There are criticisms for the police and the PPS (Public Prosecution Service) but ultimate responsibility and blame for the Covid-19 health messaging being undermined, lies with Sinn Fein.
“They organised, promoted and attended the procession and the political rally in Milltown cemetery. Yet, they still refuse to apologise.
“Of course, many people wanted to attend the funeral of their friend but out of respect for the rules and their neighbours, they did not and live with that today.”
PPS Senior Assistant Director Marianne O’Kane, who conducted the reviews, applied the Test for Prosecution to the evidence provided and concluded that as a result of all factors considered, it was not possible for the prosecution to prove any breach of the regulations to the required standard.
The DUP MLA for North Antrim added: “It is time Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald apologised for their party’s actions.
“We hear much from Sinn Fein about fluffy words, but this was a blatant undermining of the public health messaging and regulations. Whilst the PPS says the rules were confusing, the general public whether in relation to their sports clubs, visiting their families, churches, weddings or their loved one’s funeral, were able to understand the rules.”
Mr Storey said he will “probe this matter further” when PPS representatives attend a meeting of the justice committee next Thursday.
“There cannot be one rule for Sinn Fein MLAs and another rule for the rest of us. That is why the further citing of engagement between the police and the organisers as a reason for no prosecutions, is all the more galling and requires further examination,” he added.
Alliance MLA John Blair has said his thoughts remain with those unable to properly mourn the death of a loved one during the Covid pandemic.
Mr Blair said the final ‘no prosecution’ decision from the PPS has likely brought back some of the pain for the bereaved families who adhered to the public health guidance.
“I am fully aware Mr Storey’s mourning family are at the centre of this and my sympathies go to them as well,” Mr Blair said.
“While what took place has not resulted in prosecutions, it is welcome the PPS acknowledged it was difficult to reconcile the crowd scenes at the funeral with the decision to not bring any prosecutions.
“Despite that being the case, the credibility of senior Sinn Féin leadership remains in tatters due to their actions at a time when they were instructing others to follow the public health guidance. However, I would urge people to not allow that to influence their decisions and... to follow that guidance”.
Many questions around the Bobby Storey “simply will not go away” the TUV’s Ron McDowell has claimed.
The party’s TUV north Belfast representative said many will view the matter closed now that the PPS has upheld its original decision.
However, Mr McDowell said: “Real and lasting damage has been done to the standing of the police and the wider criminal justice system in the eyes of many. There are many questions which simply will not go away.
“Who were/are the Black and Whites and why do they only appear at Provo funerals?
“Why could an investigation find no evidence of the 4Es approach in the Gold Command strategy for the funeral?
“Why didn’t the PSNI consult with the PPS during the planning of the Storey funeral, a shortcoming noted in the HMIC report?
“Many who buried their loved ones within the letter and spirit of the law feel they have been personally insulted by how this whole affair has been handled.”
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