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Storey funeral must follow Covid-19 restrictions, insists DUP's Campbell in letter to Chief Constable

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Guard of honour for Bobby Storey

Guard of honour for Bobby Storey

PA

Guard of honour for Bobby Storey

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has written to Chief Constable Simon Byrne to voice his concern ahead of the funeral of veteran republican Bobby Storey on Tuesday.

Mr Campbell wrote to the Chief Constable to ask what discussions had taken place to ensure that Covid-19 restrictions were adhered to at the funeral.

It comes after large crowds gathered for a number of republican funerals during the Covid-19 lockdown, in clear breach of the restrictions.

The East Londonderry MP said that there were instances of funerals that had "took place as normal as though no restrictions were in place".

While a number of restrictions have been lifted as the coronavirus lockdown eases people are still expected to maintain social distancing and gathering in large crowds is forbidden.

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DUP MP Gregory Campbell

DUP MP Gregory Campbell

DUP MP Gregory Campbell

“Families up and down the country have had to endure periods of intense grief without the usual neighbourly support network because of Covid-19 restrictions on funerals and wakes," Mr Campbell said

"There were clear breaches of the law. I have asked what the status is of investigations into those breaches.

"It was unacceptable for those funerals to take place as they did and would be equally unacceptable if Bobby Storey’s funeral was to flout the law. It would send a message that there is one rule for law-abiding people and another rule for a paramilitary funeral."

Mr Storey (64), who died in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne last week after an unsuccessful lung transplant, was a former northern chairman of Sinn Fein, as well as a former internee.

DUP veteran Mr Campbell said that police must show a consistent approach at the funeral.

"We cannot have two tier policing or double standards. No one is above the law and no one must be seen to be above it either," he said.

In response to Mr Campbell's comments a PSNI spokesperson said: "Any correspondence received by the Chief Constable’s Office will be responded to in due course."

Large crowds lined the Falls Road as Mr Storey's coffin made its way to the family home in Andersonstown on Friday.

His remains will leave his home in Owenvarragh Park on Tuesday at 10.30am for 11am Mass at St Agnes’ Church on the Andersonstown Road, and afterwards to Milltown Cemetery.

Bobby Storey

Thousands of mourners are expected to attend with former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams expected to deliver a eulogy at the graveside.

Storey was the IRA’s former director of intelligence and was reputed to have planned the 1983 escape of 38 prisoners from the Maze, as well as the 2002 Castlereagh RUC base break-in, and the 2004 Northern Bank robbery.

He was sentenced to 18 years for possession of a rifle in 1981 and also spent several periods behind bars remanded on other charges.

Belfast Telegraph