LiveBobby Storey funeral decision - PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne rejects calls from Arlene Foster for him to resign - Arlene Foster announces she is holding press conference within the next hour - Michelle O'Neill responds to PPS announcement saying 'we wanted only to support Bobby’s family as he was laid to rest'

PSNI Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, has rejected a call from First Minister Arlene Foster for him to resign over police involvement in the organising of the funeral of former IRA man, Bobby Storey.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 5:40 pm

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PSNI Chief Constable, Simon Byrne.

LIVE UPDATES: Bobby Storey funeral decision - PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne rejects Arlene Foster’s call for him to resign

Last updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2021, 15:35

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne rejects Arlene Foster’s call for him to resign

The Chief Constable of the PSNI, Simon Byrne, has rejected Arlene Foster’s call for him to resign.

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne said the decision of the PPS does not change his view that the large number of people that attended Bobby Storey’s funeral was “unnecessary, irresponsible and insensitive”.

“The policing of a large funeral in a Covid pandemic was always going to be a challenge,” Mr Byrne added.

“Using force to prevent the funeral was never going to work, nor indeed would it be justified or proportionate.

“The PPS did say we engaged with organisers, but despite public furore, no deals were done.

“We did not turn a blind eye.

“It is also clear that overall, the prosecution outcome would not have been different even if our approach had been, given the complexities in the regulations at the time.”

First Minister Arlene Foster to hold press conference within the next hour

First Minister, Arlene Foster, will hold a press conference at 3.30pm this afternoon.

Mrs. Foster announced the time of the press conference via Twitter.

Mrs. Foster’s tweet included a brief reaction to the news that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) will not be prosecuting anyone in connection with alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations at the funeral of former IRA man Bobby Storey last June.

“I feel sorry for everyone who stuck by the rules.

“Devastating outcome for public confidence in policing.

“There will be consequences.

“I will be holding a press conference at 1530,” said Mrs. Foster.

Michelle O’Neill responds to PPS decision on Bobby Storey’s funeral

Michelle O’Neill said: “I wish to say again today that I am sorry for the hurt that has been caused to so many, including to Bobby Storey’s own family who have been thrust into the headlines at a time of immense grief.

“Over the past nine months, I have worked tirelessly to rebuild trust with the public and I continue to work every day to navigate us all through this unprecedented crisis.

“Nine months ago I laid my dear friend Bobby Storey to rest. 

“I accept and understand that many people, particularly those who had lost loved ones during the last year, felt that by my actions, I gave the impression that the rules did not apply to us all equally.  Let me say clearly they do.

“No funeral is more important than any other.  No family or community is any more important than any other. 

“All grief is devastating.

“I wish to say again today that I am sorry for the hurt that has been caused to so many, including to Bobby Storey’s own family who have been thrust into the headlines at a time of immense grief.  We wanted only to support Bobby’s family as he was laid to rest.

“Over the past nine months, I have worked tirelessly to rebuild trust with the public and I continue to work every day to navigate us all through this unprecedented crisis.

“We are now beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel in relation to this dreadful pandemic. I will continue to focus on leading us to better days ahead.”

PPS will not be prosecuting anyone in connection with Bobby Storey funeral in June last year - reports

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) will not be prosecuting anyone in connection with the Bobby Storey funeral in June 2020, according to various reports.

Responding to the PPS’ decision deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, said: “I wish to say again today that I am sorry for the hurt that has been caused to so many, including to Bobby Storey’s own family who have been thrust into the headlines at a time of immense grief. “Over the past nine months, I have worked tirelessly to rebuild trust with the public and I continue to work every day to navigate us all through this unprecedented crisis.”

Reacting to the news, Traditional Unionist Voice leader and MLA for North Antrim, described the PPS’ decision not to prosecute as “perverse” and a “sham”.

Reports PPS has decided not to prosecute anyone in connection with Bobby Storey funeral

Sinn Fein figures to learn prosecution decision over Bobby Storey funeral scenes

Senior Sinn Fein figures are expected to learn later whether they will face action over alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations at the funeral of a senior republican - writes David Young, PA.

Party vice president and Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill was among those interviewed by police over the scenes at Bobby Storey’s funeral in west Belfast in June last year.

The Public Prosecution Service has been considering police evidence files on 24 individuals, including several senior members of the party.

The PPS is expected to inform those individuals of its decisions later on Tuesday.

Breaches of Covid-19 regulations are summary offences which are punishable by fines.

The funeral of the high-profile republican and former IRA leader was one of the most controversial events to occur during the coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland.

More than 1,000 people lined the streets for Mr Storey’s funeral procession at a time when strict limits on such events were in place.

The attendance of Sinn Fein leaders at the funeral and a subsequent memorial event at nearby Milltown Cemetery sparked a major political row at Stormont, with the republican party accused of disregarding rules they set for the rest of society.

Ms O’Neill, party president Mary Lou McDonald, former president Gerry Adams, Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy, TD Pearse Doherty, Policing Board members Gerry Kelly and Linda Dillon, and MLA Martina Anderson were among senior republicans who attended.

It is understood the police files under consideration by the PPS did not feature individuals resident in the Irish Republic.

Mr Storey was not buried at Milltown but was instead cremated at Roselawn Cemetery on the other side of Belfast in a separate event which generated its own controversy.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland commissioned Mark Webster, Deputy Chief Constable of Cumbria Police, to oversee its investigation into the events around the funeral.

Commanders sought external direction as those who attended the funeral included Sinn Fein members of the Policing Board, which is the police’s oversight body.

The PPS is also expected to make public decisions over alleged breaches of regulations at three other funerals, including that of former Sinn Fein councillor Francie McNally in Co Tyrone in April 2020.

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