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Bobby Storey funeral: Cumbria police chief appointed to lead probe

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The funeral of Bobby Storey in west Belfast

The funeral of Bobby Storey in west Belfast

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Bobby Storey in west Belfast

A Cumbria police chief has been appointed to direct the PSNI investigation on whether coronavirus regulations were breached at Bobby Storey's funeral on June 30.

It comes after Northern Ireland's Chief Constable Simon Byrne requested an external officer to lead the investigation into the senior republican's funeral in a request to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Webster was selected by the UK's coordination body for law enforcement, the National Police Chiefs' Council, to oversee the investigation into potential breaches of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Regulations) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 at the funeral.

The investigation will also review the events leading up to the date of the funeral.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of west Belfast for Mr Storey's funeral.

It was also attended by senior Sinn Fein representatives including the Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and the Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

Their attendance later sparked a row at Stormont, where representatives from other parties accused Sinn fein of breaching coronavirus restrictions and undermining the Executive's message on Covid-19.

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

The cremation service at Roselawn Cemetery held for the former IRA leader on June 30 was the only one of nine that day where 30 people were allowed to attend.

The Police Ombudsman has also said a complaint from a member of the public regarding the police actions leading up to the funeral is also being considered.

The PSNI said they will be making no further comment until a conclusion is reached on both matters.

On Thursday, the DUP welcomed the Chief Constable's decision to bring in an external officer, with the party's policing board member Mervyn Storey saying it was an "entirely sensible and appropriate move".

"We were concerned about the perceptions around the PSNI's independence to investigate the Bobby Storey funeral as well as other issues," he said.

"The scenes in west Belfast and at Roselawn left many feeling there were two tiers in the legal system.

"It is vital that this investigation sends a clear message that no one is above the law and we are all equally subject to the law.

"Restoring credibility to the Covid-19 regulations will be a long road but the police has a key role to play."

Belfast Telegraph