Northern Eire First Minister Michelle O’Neill has apologised for going to the funeral of a senior IRA member whereas COVID restrictions have been in place.

Ms O’Neill, who was deputy first minister on the time, signalled her regret for her actions throughout the newest hearings on the coronavirus inquiry.

In June 2020, Ms O’Neill went to the funeral of Bobby Storey who joined the IRA as an adolescent and was arrested quite a few occasions.

Bobby Storey, a former leading IRA member, died earlier this month
Bobby Storey. Pic: PA

He was supportive of the peace course of in Northern Eire, and later served as Sinn Fein’s northern celebration chair.

The 64-year-old died following a failed lung transplant, with a funeral happening in Belfast.

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A large crowd gathered for Bobby Storey's funeral procession
1000’s gathered for Bobby Storey’s funeral procession. Pic: PA

1000’s gathered for the procession – together with many Sinn Fein politicians – and there was vocal criticism from political rivals claiming COVID laws have been breached.

Chatting with the inquiry, Ms O’Neill stated: “I do know that my actions additionally angered the households and for that I am actually sorry. I’m sorry for going and I am sorry for the hurt that is been triggered after (it).

Following questioning, Ms O’Neill stated she didn’t assume her actions would have sparked anger on the time “however I should have”.

“I’ve stated it publicly on quite a few events about how sorry I’m and I’m completely, from the underside of my coronary heart, sorry.

“I do settle for wholeheartedly that I not directly broken our Government relations with colleagues who had been working very arduous with me the entire method via, and I additionally settle for wholeheartedly that I broken the general public well being messaging and I had work to do to regain that.”

“Sorry” now not the toughest phrase for Northern Eire’s first minister

David Blevins - Senior Ireland correspondent

David Blevins

Senior Eire correspondent


Michelle O’Neill confronted fierce criticism for attending the funeral of IRA chief Bobby Storey throughout the world pandemic.

With 1000’s lining the route, the then deputy first minister had breached the power-sharing authorities’s personal COVID restrictions.

On the time, Ms O’Neill, who’s deputy chief of Sinn Fein, stated she would “by no means apologise for attending the funeral of a good friend”.

4 years later, and sorry now not appears to be the toughest phrase for Northern Eire’s first minister.

She requested if she may deal with bereaved relations instantly however was informed she was there to offer proof.

Not as soon as, however twice, the primary minister stated she was “sorry” – “sorry from the underside of my coronary heart”.

Throughout the pandemic, unionists most well-liked to take their lead from Westminster, however nationalists seemed to the Irish authorities.

However Ms O’Neill informed the inquiry she “completely refutes” any suggestion she was taking part in politics throughout the pandemic.

A subsequent report discovered the Police Service of Northern Eire prioritised public security over coronavirus restrictions on the funeral – however did so with out exhibiting bias.

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On the time, Ms O’Neill stated she would by no means apologise for attending the funeral of a “good friend”.

She confronted calls to face other than unionist politicians, together with Conventional Unionist Voice chief Jim Allister.

He stated on the time: “In mild of the truth that Ms O’Neill is immediately current with many lots of of others on the funeral of Bobby Storey her place is untenable.

“Her conduct is grossly offensive and insulting to the numerous law-abiding individuals who have made the large sacrifice of foregoing a traditional funeral as they stated farewell to relations who died not too long ago.”


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