Northern Ireland news

Simon Byrne warned ministers over Covid rules 'confusion' months before Storey funeral

The funeral of republican Bobby Storey in June 2020. Picture by Mal McCann
David Young and Claire Simpson

THE Ulster Unionist Party has called for another inquiry into the PSNI's handling of veteran republican Bobby Storey's funeral, even though an independent report published on Monday found no bias.

Assembly member Mike Nesbitt, who represents his party on the Policing Board, said the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is incomplete.

He has called on Justice Minister Naomi Long to commission a fresh inquiry.

The HMIC report found no bias in how the PSNI handled the funeral, which drew around 2,000 mourners in June 2020 despite Covid restrictions.

It stated there were "grounds for criticising the PSNI approach" but they were not "especially serious failings".

The funeral, attended by senior Sinn Féin figures including Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, caused a political fall-out.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decision not to recommend any prosecutions prompted calls from unionists for the chief constable to resign.

The PPS is reviewing its decision.

Mr Nesbitt said: "The HMIC report is incomplete, inconclusive and from what we have heard since publication, inaccurate. It is certainly not the ‘comprehensive’ review the justice minister described it as when she welcomed its publication.

"Naomi Long commissioned this report. It now falls to her to fix its shortcomings. There are serious questions to be asked about policy, not least the lack of appropriate record keeping by the PSNI regarding their communications with the funeral organisers."

Edwin Poots, who is due to become the new DUP' leader, told Nolan Live on Wednesday the HMIC report is flawed.

"I don't believe that it is a report which has demonstrated that it has went into the detail in an appropriate way and come out with the findings," he said.

However, he stopped short of demanding a new inquiry.

A Department of Justice spokesman said Ms Long had not been asked to commission a new report.

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