| 17.6°C Belfast

PSNI deny Mary Lou McDonald claim that force involved in planning of Bobby Storey funeral

The PSNI has denied claims by Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald that the force was involved in the planning of the funeral for IRA veteran Bobby Storey.

The Sinn Fein leader told RTE that the PSNI "meticulously planned" the funeral along with organisers and that it was the force which asked Sinn Fein to put stewards on the road.

However, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, in a statement issued on Friday morning, denied those claims.

The senior officer said that PSNI had engaged with organisers before the funeral of the former IRA man in order that they "understood their obligations".

He added: To be clear, PSNI were not involved in the planning of this funeral and did not approve any plan for the funeral.

"Accordingly we were made aware of the plans for Tuesday’s funeral and local officers engaged with the celebrant and service organisers to highlight both the public health advice and risks around Covid-19, and the requirement for those attending to adhere to social distancing.

Close

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald at the ceremony for Bobby Storey at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald at the ceremony for Bobby Storey at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald at the ceremony for Bobby Storey at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

"We had assurances that those attending would observe the health guidelines and that marshals would be in place to encourage those lining the cortege route to observe social distancing.

"During the funeral, Police implemented a temporary road closure for a short time due to public safety concerns.

“We will now review all footage gathered during the funeral and will consider any suspected breaches of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations NI 2020. Where such potential breaches are identified, in respect of any individual, the matter will be referred to the Public Prosecution Service for their consideration.”

Sinn Fein has been approached for comment on the police statement.

In a statement on Friday morning, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill acknowledged the "considerable controversy" over her attendance at the funeral. She said it was "unfortunate" the matter had divided the Executive.

Close

A crowd listens to former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams speak during the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast.

A crowd listens to former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams speak during the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast.

A crowd listens to former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams speak during the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast.

She added that she believed she stuck to the coronavirus lockdown guidelines.

It comes after the DUP, Ulster Unionists, SDLP, Alliance Party and TUV all called for Mrs O'Neill to step aside while the PSNI investigates.

The parties have said that Mrs O'Neill's actions have compromised the public health message from the Executive during the coronavirus pandemic.

Belfast Telegraph