Let us begin by dissecting Belfast City Council’s (BCC) own statement.
In the first paragraph the statement says that following the emergency change to permit 30 persons to gather outside that this permitted the Council to “offer this as an option for mourners”.
Belfast City Council did not offer this option for mourners, they offered this option solely for the funeral of Bobby Storey- denying all other families this ‘option’.
We then move on to the bland and unparticularised assertion that “all cremations held on Tuesday (30th June) complied with the guidance set out by the Northern Ireland Executive” This bare and unparticularised assertion cannot go unchallenged.
How are Belfast City Council able to issue this determination? They state this not as a position of belief, but rather as one of fact. There is an ongoing police investigation, and as such in any event it is highly improper for Belfast City Council to state, as fact, that all guidance was complied with.
Did, for example, Belfast City Council deploy staff to carry out a headcount of how many persons were present? If not, then how can they state as fact the guidance was not breached? This simple question alone undermines their unparticularised assertion in support of Sinn Fein.
The Northern Ireland Executive issued a letter of guidance to faith-based groups, in relation to religious services, on 26 June 2020. This correspondence was signed off by DUP Junior Minister Gordon Lyons and Sinn Fein Junior Minister Declan Kearney.
It was this ‘guidance’ that Michelle O’Neill relied upon in relation to her explanation for attending Bobby Storey’s mass; however within the third paragraph of this letter it explicitly states “Weddings, baptisms and funerals are not covered by this advice”.
It is clear therefore that the reasoning provided by Michelle O’Neill for her attendance at the funeral mass is fatally flawed.
The amendment to the regulations- rushing through only one change- was laid by the Department of Health at 9:30pm on the 29th June, to come into force at 11pm on the same date, and was laid before the Assembly at 9am on the morning of 30th June, the day of Mr Storey’s funeral.
In Schedule 18 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 the powers conferred upon the Department of Health allows for the making of emergency regulations, and/or amendments to same. Therefore, the test for the exercise of the discretionary power to unilaterally amend the Regulations is one of necessity arising from an emergency.
What was the necessity and emergency that this single amendment had to be rushed through late at night prior to, and indeed early in the morning of, Bobby Storey’s funeral? The only logical conclusion is that these powers were exercised solely for the necessity of facilitating the funeral of a dual member of the IRA and its political wing Sinn Fein, one of the parties making up the Northern Ireland Executive.
That, in of itself, is a scandal. Emergency rules it seems are made based upon the political needs of those in Government. If, however, the ‘emergency’ and ‘necessity’ was to ensure that all citizens could have up to 30 persons attending, then why was the other families not notified of the emergency changes?
Indeed, Belfast City Council choose to deny 8 families the right to hold such a gathering, facilitating only the funeral of Bobby Storey. Before we delve further into their handling of the event, this alone is a resignation matter for the official ultimately responsible for this.
Are we further to believe that the arrangements for the funeral, which included IRA Battallions gathered in black shirts and white ties, were only drawn up following the change from 10 persons to 30 persons for public gatherings? Of course not; in any event they never had any intention of abiding by the Regulations given that the majority of IRA Battalions had more than 30 gathered within their ranks.
What about security (more of this to come); how were those persons organised? and by whom?
Furthermore funerals are supposed to be attended only by family members; if we observe the cortege there were a number of non-family members there, including the current IRA Army Council members Martin Lynch, Sean Murray and Sean Hughes.
There is much more significant revelations ahead in relation to the scandal which sums up the entire ‘peace process’; those that lecture us all on ‘equality’ are the same people who demand supremacy and special treatment in order for there to even be a ‘peace process’.
This isn’t going away, you know.