Mervyn Storey MLA
DUP South Antrim MLA and Policing Board representative Trevor Clarke has said public anger at the attendance of the Sinn Fein leadership at the funeral of Bobby Storey cannot deflect from the PSNI’s repeated failure to enforce the rule of law at illegal gatherings by republicans during Covid-19.
Commenting after raising concerns with the Chief Constable at Thursday’s Policing Board meeting, Mr Clarke said: ‘‘The presence of the Deputy First Minister at the funeral of Bobby Storey in blatant breach of the public health regulations she was responsible for drafting demonstrated a reckless lack of leadership. It is critical for public confidence that she steps aside while the matter is investigated.
"This high-profile funeral has rightly captured public anger but it is not an isolated or stand-alone incident. We deeply regret that the consistent failure of the PSNI to act in a more robust and visible fashion at previous illegal gatherings may have emboldened Tuesday’s participants. This casts a shadow over longer-term confidence in policing.
"I was keen to ask the Chief Constable what assurances organisers of this funeral had given the PSNI ahead of the event and how eventual breaches of those arrangements would now be investigated. It is vital that he now proactively addresses the widely-held assumption of special treatment for certain sections of the community in relation the enforcement of the Regulations.
"Photographs of Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member Sean Lynch taking part in a prohibited indoor gathering of more than 6 people whilst breaching guidance on 1-2m social distancing could not be clearer. The PSNI investigation should be no respecter or person or privilege. The public rightly demand action and will expect to see files passed to the PPS moving forward.’’
DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey also attended Thursday’s meeting of the Policing Board.
Reacting, he said: ‘‘The active participation of the Sinn Fein leadership, including two members of the Policing Board, in the funeral of Bobby Storey was an affront to every family across Northern Ireland who have laid loved ones to rest during this pandemic in line with the Regulations in the most difficult of circumstances.
"Contrary to the spin, the law on funeral restrictions have not changed. Michelle O’Neill played an integral part in devising these Regulations. Her willful breach not just of their spirit but also their content demonstrates none of the respect, integrity and equality Sinn Fein are so keen to demand of others.