Editorial: Belfast's £100,000 legal bill over the Bobby Storey funeral is a reminder of how the IRA was appeased during lockdown

Morning View (Photo: gina)
Morning View (Photo: gina)

​​It emerged yesterday that Belfast City Council spent almost £100,000 on legal fees in relation to the Bobby Storey IRA funeral.

According to the BBC, the sum includes £50,000 on a barrister’s inquiry into what had happened. The council apologised again yesterday for the affair and the "hurt ... caused by its actions".

The money spent on legal fees, while striking, is only a secondary part of this scandal. The PSNI and Belfast City Council both appeased the IRA to give the terrorist Storey special treatment.

The first special treatment was the police facilitation of such a massive breach of funeral and gathering limits, with Sinn Fein – which had demanded tougher lockdown rules – at the helm.

The second was the IRA funeral getting special use of Roselawn Crematorium.

What happened after that dark day in June 2020 was even worse. BBC NI initial coverage of the funeral breach was slow and Stormont reaction paltry. Was the latter hesitancy a subconscious political desire to avoid criticism of a party as prickly as Sinn Fein?

Then there were the investigations into the terrorist funeral. Prosecutors said the law was too complex, even for Sinn Fein politicians who shaped it. His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary agreed. Prosecutors said police facilitation of the funeral helped make prosecutions impossible. Police say that facilitation was for reasons such as safety. HMIC agreed. The council’s report said republicans did not put pressure on the council to close Roselawn for the IRA funeral.

Thus a flagrant breach of covid rules on gatherings and funerals, rules that honest mourning families across NI had grasped, a breach marshalled by 1,000 uniformed stewards, hours after Stormont covid rules mysteriously changed, led to no formal criticism of SF – none. To many people it looked like a prime exhibit of special treatment for Irish republicans.