Bobby Storey funeral: ‘Different rules for different people’ - angry reaction from people who buried loved ones during lockdown

Ordinary members of the public whose loved ones died during lockdown have expressed anger that Sinn Fein members will not be prosecuted over the Bobby Storey funeral.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 11:26 pm

Their comments come after Tuesday’s announcement by the Public Prosecution Service that action would not be taken against 24 Sinn Fein members who were among an estimated 2,000 people who gathered for the funeral of the former IRA leader last June.

Harry Murdock lost his brother – who was living in a nursing home on the Ravenhill Road in Belfast – during the lockdown.

“We were told we had to keep your distance, we were told we had to wear masks,” he told ‘Good Morning Ulster’. “We weren’t allowed to carry a coffin.”

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Gerry McKeever from Londonderry was unable to say a proper farewell to his father, who died during lockdown.
Gerry McKeever from Londonderry was unable to say a proper farewell to his father, who died during lockdown.

By contrast he noted that eight people carried Mr Storey’s coffin to the republican plot. “We weren’t allowed to do that. And hundreds of people lined the route. No social distancing. The whole thing was totally a charade from start to finish.”

He added: “The rules are different for different people. I don’t understand why they say there is nothing to answer. How can that be?”

The chief constable and PSNI “are afraid to offend Sinn Fein – because Sinn Fein can do what they want” he said.

‘Good Morning Ulster’ also told the story of ‘Raymond’ whose father died in April last year in Enniskillen. Only his father’s five brothers and sister attended the funeral service – he and his siblings were not allowed to attend.

The funeral of senior republican Bobby Storey which took place today at St. Agnes' Church, Belfast in June last year.

“It certainly has been one of the most challenging times in my life,” he said.

The decision not to prosecute has brought much anger, he said.

“I get that sense there is a lot of anger. People feel let down. People feel they have let their loved ones down because of what they witnessed in June when they saw people gathering without any sense of restrictions or social distancing whatsoever. In some cases people have felt retraumatised by it all.”

Later on Radio Ulsters ‘Talkback’ ‘Billy’ said he was “just flabbergasted” by the events.

The fact that the PSNI had agreed to have Sinn Fein stewards marshall the huge event shocked him. “Who is running this country?” he asked.

He said the director of public prosecutions, chief constable and assistant chief constable who oversaw the funeral plans should all resign.

“It is totally ridiculous.”

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald should also go, he added. He did not accept that she had made a valid apology.

“I have been involved in three funerals with friends and we knew we couldn’t go [to any of them].”

He had to watch them online. “We knew what the rules were,” he added.

Gerry McKeever from Londonderry rejected Sinn Fein’s excuses. He tweeted: “Only folk who have had to bury a family member and abided with all restrictions – even though how hard it was – can really understand how frustrated and angry people are.

“I couldn’t say goodbye to my late dad – and a small funeral – not fair.”

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