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Police investigating hate crime after Bobby Storey banner erected outside Roselawn

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Roselawn Cemetery and Crematorium in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Roselawn Cemetery and Crematorium in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Roselawn Cemetery and Crematorium in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Police have confirmed they are investigating a hate incident after a banner referencing the late republican Bobby Storey was erected outside Roselawn Crematorium.

The banner was erected outside the gates of the facility in the early hours of Friday morning.

Mr Storey's cremation at Roselawn sparked a national scandal after it was revealed that eight other families were denied entrance to the facility for a committal service on the same day.

Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie said that the banner erected outside Roselawn was sectarian and made "an apparent gloating reference" to the death of Mr Storey.

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Signs and flags on the Cregagh estate bonfire

Signs and flags on the Cregagh estate bonfire

Signs and flags on the Cregagh estate bonfire

Messages referring to Mr Storey's death were also placed on a number of Eleventh night bonfires.

Mr Beattie, who is Sinn Fein's group leader on Belfast City Council, said the banner was part of an "ongoing campaign being orchestrated by faceless trolls and thugs".

He said the group is targeting a grieving family and must cease immediately.

“I am calling on unionist political and community leaders to show leadership and to condemn those involved in these reprehensible actions," the Sinn Fein councillor said.

“The Storey family, like all other families, deserve to grieve the loss of their loved one in peace.

“This banner has been reported to the PSNI as a hate crime.”

PSNI Chief Inspector Jonathan Wilson confirmed police were investigating the incident.

"Police received a report of an banner being erected in the Ballygowan Road area of Belfast on Friday morning," he said.

“Police enquiries are ongoing and we are treating this matter as being hate-motivated. Should available evidence reach the criminal law threshold, and where offenders are identified, we will refer them to the PPS.”

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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

Belfast City Council has voted to hold an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Storey's cremation.

Up to 30 mourners for Mr Storey's service were admitted to Roselawn on the day in question, while eight other families were denied this right.

Council officers have since apologised to the families affected.

Mr Storey died on June 21 in England following a failed lung transplant.

Large crowds gathered for the veteran republican's funeral in west Belfast on June 30, putting severe pressure on the power-sharing Executive at Stormont.

Relations between Sinn Fein and the other four parties in the Executive broke down amid claims senior Sinn Fein figures flouted social distancing regulations at the funeral.

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Micheal Martin arrives at Stormont to be greeted by Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill

Micheal Martin arrives at Stormont to be greeted by Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill

Getty Images

Micheal Martin arrives at Stormont to be greeted by Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill

First Minister Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill were pictured together for the first time since the scandal during the visit of Taoiseach Micheal Martin to Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Belfast Telegraph