Explanation from Deputy First Minister needed after funeral, says Blair

An explanation from Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill is needed, after a large number of mourners gathered for the funeral of republican Bobby Storey, Alliance Policing Board member John Blair MLA has said.

Mr Storey was laid to rest in Milltown Cemetery following a service in St Agnes’ Church in West Belfast. Hundreds lined the route, with mourners including senior members of Sinn Féin, including the Deputy First Minister. Mr Blair said an explanation was urgently needed as to why the Executive guidance was ignored.

“My sympathies go to the loved ones of Bobby Storey, same as they go to the loved ones of anyone who has passed away,” said Mr Blair.

“But while hundreds of families have gone through this crisis and suffered the loss of their loved ones, they have been unable to pay their last respects to those who have died. That has been an extremely difficult time for everyone affected and an extra layer to the tragedy of this pandemic.

“Therefore it appears to make a mockery of the Executive’s current guidance of only 10 people being allowed to attend funerals and only 30 people being allowed to gather in groups outside. The Deputy First Minister stated this week no-one is exempt from the guidance. Now she must explain how today’s events fit in with that viewpoint or else it is selfish and poor leadership from Michelle O’Neill, showing little empathy for those who have made huge sacrifices in this difficult situation.”