Bobby Storey: Sinn Fein under pressure ahead of republican’s funeral
Sinn Fein will have serious questions to answer if the law is not adhered to at the funeral of former IRA man Bobby Storey on Tuesday.
The DUP’s Gregory Campbell and TUV leader Jim Allister issued warnings with thousands expected to take to the streets to remember the republican who died last week.
There was outcry after social distancing restrictions were not followed at previous republican funerals during lockdown.
Mr Campbell, who has asked PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne to explain how the police aim to enforce regulations, said: “Families up and down the country have had to endure periods of intense grief without the usual neighbourly support network because of Covid-19 restrictions on funerals and wakes.
“Yet over that period they’ve watched as paramilitary funerals took place as normal as though no restrictions were in place. There were clear breaches of the law. I have asked what the status is of investigations into those breaches.
“It was unacceptable for those funerals to take place as they did and would be equally unacceptable if Bobby Storey’s funeral was to flout the law. It would send a message that there is one rule for law-abiding people and another rule for a paramilitary funeral.
“We cannot have two-tier policing or double standards. No one is above the law and no one must be seen to be above it either.”
Mr Allister said: “When it came to closing schools and workplaces Sinn Fein were the most vocal about the need for the most draconian of lockdowns. However, we have seen that stance go out the window when it has come to some republican funerals during the pandemic.
“This has been deeply grieving to families who have, in deference to public health and because of their respect for the law, forgone traditional funerals for their loved ones. The lack of action by the police in relation to these incidents has been particularly hurtful.
“While Storey’s conduct in life would have rendered him beyond the pale for most people he was very much an insider when it came to mainstream republicanism.
“That being so, should guidance on the numbers attending and social distancing not be adhered to at his funeral those at the very top of Sinn Fein will have questions to answer.
“Many people, myself included, will also be watching the PSNI response to the funeral closely.”
The PSNI said: “Any correspondence received by the chief constable’s office will be responded to in due course.”
Hundreds of people lined the streets as the remains of Mr Storey arrived at his home in west Belfast on Friday.
A guard of honour was formed near his Andersonstown home.
Former Sinn Fein president and close friend Gerry Adams was among those present, along with MLA Martina Anderson.
The former Sinn Fein chairman in Northern Ireland was 64 and had been unwell for a period of time.
He died in England last Sunday following an unsuccessful lung transplant.
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