| 20.6°C Belfast

Devastated family urges SF's O'Neill to help them give loved one proper send-off

Close

Claims: Jim Rodgers

Claims: Jim Rodgers

Claims: Jim Rodgers

A grieving family has urged the Deputy First Minister to step in and help them plan a funeral for their mother after they were told only 10 people can attend Roselawn to pay their last respects.

There is anger after it emerged that mourners attending funerals at the east Belfast cemetery were denied entry on the same day that IRA veteran Bobby Storey was cremated there.

Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers also claimed that 61 people attended the cemetery. However, Belfast City Council strongly denied the allegation, stating 30 people were in attendance, according to the regulations.

Sasha Jones told the Belfast Telegraph her family's grief following the death of her mother-in-law has been compounded after being told by Roselawn no more than 10 family members would be permitted to attend the funeral.

The family is now asking for Michelle O'Neill's help "to arrange a proper funeral whereby our extended family and friends can attend to pay their respects and give our loved one the send off she and the family deserves".

"Obviously Ms O'Neill has knowledge and valuable contacts that we do not have given her friend Mr Storey's huge gathering at his funeral in the last week," she said.

"If Michelle could contact us by way of an answer published in your paper it would be very helpful."

The Deputy First Minster faced further calls to resign as she took questions during the NI Executive meeting at Stormont on Tuesday afternoon.

"Given the Deputy First Minister's reckless and arrogant behaviour over the last week," said DUP MLA William Humphrey.

"Having ignored her own medical and scientific advice, broken Covid regulations, caused great hurt to bereaved families, should the minister do what any self-respecting person and minister would do in any other jurisdiction and resign?"

His call was echoed by David Hilditch MLA with Ms O'Neill replying that she had made her position on the matter very clear.

TUV leader Jim Allister has urged all the families affected by the Belfast City Council decision on the funeral of Mr Storey to make a formal complaint.

"It is clear that there was selective preference given to one family, that of Bobby Storey, in contrast to eight other families on the very day he was cremated who were denied the same treatment. That is blatant maladministration and it needs to be addressed," he said.

"Furthermore, I believe the families should lodge a formal complaint with the Equality Commission."

The NI Public Service Ombudsman said it had received a complaint. "We can normally only investigate a complaint if a public body has completed its own internal complaints process and the complainant remains unhappy," a spokesman added.

Meanwhile, the DUP Group on Belfast City Council has called for a special meeting of the City Council this Friday to discuss "an urgent interim report which we have requested on these events".

"There must also be an independent investigation into these events. We will be formally proposing this at the Council meeting," councillors said.

"Roselawn Cemetery should return to normal opening hours with immediate effect.

"The lack of transparency around these events has undermined public confidence in the workings of the Council which we cannot tolerate."

Belfast Telegraph