Investigations into the massive IRA funeral might be largely over but they have only prised open the wound

News Letter editorial of Tuesday May 18 2021:

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 9:06 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 9:33 am
News Letter editorial

Well, we are near the end of official routes of examination into the Bobby Storey funeral.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has given the PSNI a largely clean bill of health for its handling of that gathering.

So, what have we learned from all these investigations?

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At Belfast City Council, an independent report found that the handing over of Roselawn in east Belfast for cremation of this terrorist godfather last June was a minor affair, with only a slightly larger number of people present than advisable.

And republicans put no pressure on the council to deliver such special treatment. It seems just to have happened.

Then came a PSNI probe into the main event in west Belfast. It was months before participants were interviewed.

Next, when the matter was passed to prosecutors, they came back and concluded that no-one deserved so much as a caution. The regulations had all been too complicated for any prosecution, even for Sinn Fein ministers who make the law.

And the extensive PSNI collaboration with the funeral organisers made a conviction unlikely.

Now HM inspectors say, in effect, that the PSNI was right to liaise with the organisers of this huge event, which looked to many people like an IRA extravaganza. Indeed, they agree with prosecutors that the rules were too complex.

But while probes are over the wound from this saga has been prised further open. It began with a mute political reaction from parties at Stormont on June 30, including the DUP, until public uproar. People understood, even if politicians didn’t, what an insult the IRA funeral had been, in light of the tens of thousands of restricted funerals post March 2020. That a defiant Michelle O’Neill was present and unapologetic thereafter, and still tells everyone else what they can and cannot do due to Covid, is a daily disgrace. But this is the political system that the UK and Ireland have foisted on us.

Republicans, no matter how they behave, from spying at Stormont to robbing the Northern Bank to collapsing devolution until they got an Irish language act, can do as they please.

They must be in office at all times, indefinitely into the future.

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Editor