Letters to the Editor

Sinn Féin refuses to recognise that the rule of law applies to us all

The on-going controversy about the failure of mourners to observe the rules much less social distancing at Bobby Storey’s funeral generated a lot of headlines but ultimately Sinn Féin’s base will be happy since sure they were never there and can do no wrong anyway.

For SF media managers, the tried and tested approach has again been deployed. First of all faux innocence or confusion, followed by weak excuses that insult the intelligence, then a move to indulge in blame sharing, the outraged response at being questioned and if all that fails the non-apology.

We all know everything was spontaneous and nobody was invited or advised how to behave. As to the blame sharing, apparently the Catholic Church didn’t advise members of the executive and the Dáil on the Covid 19 regulations – as if SF has a track record of listening to the clergy. Interestingly if the bible or church funeral rites prescribe how and where selfies should be taken I must have missed that.

The point about leadership is to lead but for SF, a party with ambitions to govern us all, it can be very ambivalent when it suits – from ducking key ministerial portfolios, attacking those responsible politicians that do, to the tortured logic of their public statements.

During the recent election in the Republic a classic non-apology was forced through Conor Murphy’s gritted teeth over comments he made about murdered Paul Quinn. The apology only came after a video rendered the initial Trumpesque denial embarrassing.  More revealing was a post-election Canal Court rally in Newry.  Tumultuous applause was reported when the panel of speakers, including Mary Lou, was told that Conor Murphy had “nothing to apologise for”.

Apart from the absence of leadership or clarity as to where real leadership resides, the persistent recourse to weasel non apologies, the clear message is that SF refuses to accept – or should that be recognise – the rule of law applies to us all. The party’s uncritical base in the north might be happy with such creative political “thinking” but one wonders how far it will take them in the Republic?

Belfast BT9


No apology will ever be acceptable

Days into lockdown learning my mother’s illness was now moving into palliative care, I moved into her home – a fold on the Andersonstown Road.

With the help of district nursing and primary care, we ensured her last few weeks would be pain free and helped fulfil her wish to die at home.

The phrase ‘lockdown’ was still in its infancy, but the consequences were soon to become clear.

No rotation of family members. No help with the 24/7 hour care she now so desperately needed. No crossing the threshold of the fold. No breaching the Covid rules.

No friends or family visiting. No loving words of comfort from her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
No sweet stories full of memories from her dear friends and neighbours. No chats with old NHS colleagues who thought so highly of her. No breaching the Covid rules.

No final goodbyes from her son; now residing in America or grandson marooned in the Far East. No breaching the Covid rules.

No final kisses. No loving words. No hugs. No final cuddles. All denied. No breaching the Covid rules.

No wake to aid our grief. No intimate service. Her simple wishes denied.

No accompanying her on her final journey. No family permitted by her side. No breaching the Covid rules.

No entry at her final destination, Roselawn. No access to the cemetery to bury ashes. Visits, days later,
still refused.
No rituals allowed. No breaching the Covid rules.

We were compliant. We were told we would be saving lives. No breaching the Covid rules.

We can never turn back the clock.  We can never give our mother the send off she so richly deserved.

No apology will ever be acceptable.

Holywood, Co Down


Storey got the send-off that he deserved

Bobby Storey’s funeral procession was marshalled with social distancing as a requirement. An unprecedented number of west Belfast mourners turned out, intent on paying their last respects to a hero who fearlessly stood between them and the British army’s heavily armed Paratroopers and their loyalist gunmen counterparts. He deserved the send-off that was bestowed upon him.

No-one was there intent on spreading diseases by spitting, coughing, hugging or shaking hands. Common sense was the order of the day and all returned to their homes safe in the knowledge that what they did was the right thing to do.

Meanwhile the Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil keyboard warriors began making a mountain out of a mole hill without scrutinising their own “practice what you preach” actions. Trying to dehumanise the participants in one funeral while highlighting outpourings of grief for others is a tactic that stinks to the high heavens, and to be honest people will be able to see through it in just the same way that they can see the excuse for a government that has been formed with the sole purpose of side lining Sinn Féin.

Let’s wait with bated breath for the outpouring of concern and condemnations of no social distancing that will take place on the 11th night.

Gort an Choirce,
Dún na nGall


Better to let the head rule than the heart

According to the Institute for Government ‘Spads provide advice to ministers that is more political than the impartial civil servants can provide.’

So what advice did their Spads give to Michelle O’Neill and Conor Murphy with reference to the funeral of their friend Bobby Storey? Did they tell them to go to the funeral as all the other political parties and ordinary people would understand? Or did they tell Michelle especially not to go because she is appearing every night on television telling the people to listen to the advice of the executive and because of this pandemic not to attend the funeral as they should only be for the next of kin and are limited to 10 close family mourners? (Whether it was changed at the last minute to 30 mourners is neither here nor there). Did they tell them that by going to the funeral there would be people who were going to say ‘it is one law for us and another law for them’? Did they tell them if they went they would be in the same boat as that infamous Spad Dominic Cummings who bent all the rules of the lockdown? If they were told those reasons not to attend did they ignore them and just carry on regardless?

Sometimes it is better to let the head rule rather than the heart.

Newry, Co Down

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access


Letters to the Editor