Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin figures to learn prosecution decision over Bobby Storey funeral scenes

Hundreds attended the funeral of Bobby Storey in west Belfast in June last year. Picture by Mal McCann
David Young, PA

Senior Sinn Féin figures are expected to learn later whether they will face action over alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations at the funeral of senior republican Bobby Storey.

Party vice president and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill was among those interviewed by police over the scenes at the funeral in west Belfast in June last year.

The Public Prosecution Service has been considering police evidence files on 24 individuals, including several senior members of the party.

The PPS is expected to inform those individuals of its decisions later today.

Breaches of Covid-19 regulations are summary offences which are punishable by fines.

The funeral of the high-profile republican and former IRA leader was one of the most controversial events to occur during the coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland.

More than 1,000 people lined the streets for Mr Storey’s funeral procession at a time when strict limits on such events were in place.

Read More: Two more Sinn Fein ministers reimburse public purse for using official Executive cars to attend Storey funeral

The attendance of Sinn Féin leaders at the funeral and a subsequent memorial event at nearby Milltown Cemetery sparked a major political row at Stormont, with the republican party accused of disregarding rules they set for the rest of society.

Ms O’Neill, party president Mary Lou McDonald, former president Gerry Adams, Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy, TD Pearse Doherty, Policing Board members Gerry Kelly and Linda Dillon, and MLA Martina Anderson were among senior republicans who attended.

It is understood the police files under consideration by the PPS did not feature individuals resident in the Irish Republic.

Mr Storey was not buried at Milltown but was instead cremated at Roselawn Cemetery on the other side of Belfast in a separate event which generated its own controversy.

The PSNI commissioned Mark Webster, Deputy Chief Constable of Cumbria Police, to oversee its investigation into the events around the funeral.

Commanders sought external direction as those who attended the funeral included Sinn Féin members of the Policing Board.

The PPS is also expected to make public decisions over alleged breaches of regulations at three other funerals, including that of former Sinn Féin councillor Francie McNally in Co Tyrone in April 2020.

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