Gerry Kelly ‘refused full-co-operation with funeral investigators’

Among the findings of the report into Bobby Storey’s funeral was that Gerry Kelly had declined to fully co-operate with the inspectorate’s probe into the funeral.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 9:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 10:02 am

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published its report into the affair yesterday, stating that preventing disorder had been the primary focus of the force on the day the former IRA enforcer was buried, and basically clearing the police of any significant wrongdoing.

The report says that Mr Kelly – MLA for North Belfast – had been appointed as a liaison between the PSNI and the Storey family.

While he had extensive contact with police in the run-up to the event – assuring them there would be no paramilitary show of strength (though he “didn’t want to go into details”) – yesterday’s report noted that some of this contact took the form of unrecorded phone calls, making it impossible to determine exactly what had been said between the parties.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly

There was “a lack of comprehensive records of the contact between senior PSNI leaders and Mr Kelly,” the report found, adding: “We understand that this was a factor in the PPS decision not to prosecute.”

The inspectorate was further hampered by the fact that “Mr Kelly chose not to share his account of his conversations with the PSNI commanders in the run-up to the funeral with us”.

It adds: “But we saw nothing to suggest that the manner in which he engaged with the PSNI was anything other than open and professional.”

The report also says that an event planning firm often used by Sinn Fein was contacted, but did not respond.

The report also goes on to say that Mr Kelly had told officers as many as 10,000 people may attend, because “similar numbers had attended the funeral of Martin McGuinness in March 2017”.

He also “asked the PSNI to carry out searches of the funeral venues; this was because senior Sinn Fein politicians and leadership would be attending”.

The report had three recommendations for police:

> Broadly communicate the 4Es approach – engage, explain, encourage and enforce – whenever breaches of the Covid rules are anticipated;

> Make and retain proper records of conversations with event organisers;

> Carry out a formal debrief at the end of any operations.

Sinn Fein had issued no press release about the report at time of writing, and there was no mention of it on the party’s Twitter account or those of its leadership.

More from this reporter:

——— ———

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe