Northern Ireland news

Bobby Storey funeral: Mourners asked to attend voluntary police interview

The funeral of republican Bobby Storey. Picture by Mal McCann

Police have invited a number of people who attended the funeral of veteran republican Bobby Storey in Belfast on June 30 to undertake a voluntary interview.

Detectives are investigating alleged breaches of the coronavirus regulations on gatherings.

Mourners on June 30 included senior Sinn Féin representatives like Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Webster of Cumbria Constabulary was appointed to oversee and direct the PSNI inquiry.

He said: "Today an initial number of letters were issued to individuals who were identified as having been present on 30th June in potential breach of the Health Protection Regulations.

"The letters are inviting these individuals to participate in a voluntary interview with investigating officers at a local police station.

"Upon receipt of a letter individuals will have 14 days to respond should they wish to take part in an interview."

Ms O'Neill and Mr Murphy have denied breaching social distancing measures while at the funeral.

Hundreds of people lined the streets in west Belfast as Mr Storey's funeral cortege passed by despite the restrictions and despite marshals being present.

A row with the DUP over the matter prompted the suspension of joint briefings with Sinn Féin during the health emergency.

 Sinn Féin spokesperson said: "A number of the party's elected representatives have received letters from the police this morning asking them to present for voluntary interview.

"They will contact the police and co-operate with the investigation."

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey welcomed the move.

"The focus on process is one thing and I'm glad to hear progress but an outcome is the most important," he said.

"It is 81 days since the Covid-19 rules were fundamentally undermined by that event.

"This case, like every other investigation, must be based on the principle that everyone is equal under the law and be equally subject to the law. No-one is above the law."

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