No prosecutions over Covid breaches at Bobby Storey funeral

Tuesday, March 30
IRELAND


The funeral last June attracted 2,000 mourners, including Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, at a time when Covid restrictions were in place.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster said the position of the PSNI chief constable is "untenable" following the Public Prosecution Service decision that there would be no prosecutions in relation to the funeral of Bobby Storey.

In a statement the DUP leader said the organisation, attendance, policing and investigation of the Storey funeral "raise fundamental questions which require deeper examination if public confidence in the institutions of justice is to be maintained".

"Everyone must be equal under the law and equally subject to the law," she said.

A police file has been with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) since December.

The funeral last June attracted 2,000 mourners, including Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, at a time when Covid restrictions were in place.

The Sinn Féin vice president was one of 24 people interviewed as part of a police investigation into the conduct of the funeral. 

Mr Storey, 64, was a senior republican figure and had formerly been the head of intelligence for the IRA in the 1990s.



On Tuesday, Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron said he acknowledged the widespread public concern over attendance at the funeral.

But he added the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 had become "extremely difficult to navigate" because of various amendments, and were in some respects "inconsistent".

He added organisers of the funeral and the police had engaged against "the backdrop of evolving regulations".

This was done, Mr Herron said, to ensure a balance was struck in the funeral arrangements "between respecting the sensitivity of the occasion and minimising any risk to both public health and safety".

"Prosecutions can only be brought where the available evidence provides a reasonable prospect of proving, beyond reasonable doubt, a breach of the criminal law."