Northern Ireland news

Funeral of John Hume will strictly adhere to Covid regulations with number of mourners limited

Former SDLP leader John Hume photographed in Derry for his 25th year in politics celebration in 1994. Mr Hume's funeral mass will take place in Derry tomorrow
Seanín Graham

JOHN Hume's funeral will take place in accordance with coronavirus regulations with "very strict rules rule on numbers", his family has said.

In a statement released yesterday, it was confirmed that a memorial service and a celebration of the Nobel Prize winner's life will be held in "due course".

The Hume family said: "We realise this will mean that many will be unable to join us... Above all, we know that John would have prioritised public health, and the safety and health of our communities.

"We are grateful for your condolences and support, and we appreciate that you will respect the family’s right to privacy at this time of great loss."

The removal of Mr Hume's remains will take place today, leaving Moville, Co Donegal for the Cathedral of Saint Eugene in Derry at 7.30pm. 

The SDLP founder's funeral Mass will be broadcast on RTÉ one at 11.30am tomorrow.

Read more: John Hume's family urge people to light a candle in tribute

Father Paul Farren, Administrator of St Eugene's, will be the celebrant for the Mass and he will preach the homily. Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, is to preside also and say the final words.

Social distancing will be "strictly observed within the cathedral and on its grounds", the Catholic Church communications office said.

Ian Knox cartoon 4/8/20 

Latest Stormont regulations for funeral services state the "size and circumstances" of a place of worship will determine the "maximum number that can attend the service safely whilst observing social distancing of at least two metres, wherever possible".

It is recommended that face coverings are used for indoor church services.

Any mourner displaying symptoms of coronavirus should not attend a funeral as they pose a risk to others.

In June, a political row erupted over the attendance of Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Féin Executive ministers at the large funeral of veteran republican Bobby Storey, when hundreds took part in the funeral cortège in west Belfast.

At that time, Covid-19 rules had been relaxed allow up to thirty other people who were not members of the same household to meet outside - while maintaining social distancing.

Ms O'Neill insisted she acted "within the guidelines" by taking part in a cortege of 30 people and that those attending the church service had acted in an "exemplary" manner by following social distancing guidelines.

However, she faced calls to resign and was accused of breaching the rules.

At that time, regulations stipulated you could only attend a friend's funeral if no close family member or member of their household was able to go.

Three days after Mr Storey's funeral, Ms O'Neill issued an apology for "grieving families experiencing more hurt" following the large crowds in attendance.

Read more: John Hume - in pictures

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news