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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Belfast councillors vote for independent investigation into Storey cremation

  • NI death toll remains at 554
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It has emerged that Bobby Storey’s funeral service at Roselawn Cemetery in east Belfast last Tuesday was the only one of nine that day where 30 people were allowed to attend an outdoor service on site (Liam McBurney/PA)

It has emerged that Bobby Storey’s funeral service at Roselawn Cemetery in east Belfast last Tuesday was the only one of nine that day where 30 people were allowed to attend an outdoor service on site (Liam McBurney/PA)

It has emerged that Bobby Storey’s funeral service at Roselawn Cemetery in east Belfast last Tuesday was the only one of nine that day where 30 people were allowed to attend an outdoor service on site (Liam McBurney/PA)

Belfast councillors have voted in favour of an independent investigation into the events leading up to and surrounding the cremation of veteran republican Bobby Storey at Roselawn Crematorium.

When Mr Storey was cremated at the facility on June 30 his family and friends were allowed to attend, while eight other families whose loved ones were cremated at Roselawn on the same day were denied access.

The fallout from Mr Storey's funeral has created a political row, while the council has come under pressure to explain why Mr Storey's family and friends were treated differently.

A special meeting of Belfast City Council was called for Friday and a motion calling for an independent investigation into the events was passed with 36 votes. Nobody voted against the motion, while Sinn Fein and People Before Profit councillors abstained.

Speaking at the meeting DUP council leader George Dorrian said it was a matter of profound regret that such a meeting even needed to take place.

He said the matter had caused unparalleled hurt to the families affected and said the facts needed to come out to restore confidence in the council.

Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie said the row around Mr Storey's cremation had led to a "witch hunt" to damage council officers.

He said Mr Storey would have wanted every family to have been treated equally on the day in question.

Veteran UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said what had happened was "unbelievable" and he had never experienced anything like it in all his years on council, while the SDLP's Donal Lyons said a comprehensive investigation was needed.

It comes after the Department of Health confirmed there had been no further coronavirus-related deaths in Northern Ireland for the past seven consecutive days.

The death toll in the region remains at 554.

Follow our live blog below for today's latest developments:

Belfast Telegraph