Storey funeral had potential to undermine public health message – McBride

Northern Ireland’s top doctor has told the Covid-19 Inquiry of his concern that scenes of a large number of people attending the funeral of republican Bobby Storey during the pandemic had the potential to undermine confidence in public health measures.

Dr Sir Michael McBride, Stormont’s chief medical officer, told the inquiry that the funeral in Belfast and other high-profile breaches of Covid restrictions caused a great deal of “hurt and anger”.

The funeral in June 2020 sparked political controversy after then deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill and other Sinn Fein ministers attended.

Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021
Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland Dr Michael McBride (Sir Mark Marlow/PA)

Large numbers of people lined the route and the cortege was followed at a distance by a large number of mourners at a time when social distancing guidelines were in place.

Earlier this week, Sinn Fein’s former communities minister Caral Ni Chuilin told the inquiry she accepted that she should not have attended the funeral.

Dr McBride was asked about the funeral during his appearance before inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett on Friday.

“My concern was that that and the other incidents where this occurred created a great deal of hurt, anger and also had the potential to undermine public confidence in what we were asking people to do and the huge sacrifices that people had already made at a time when they had many more sacrifices to make.

“So, I was concerned about the discordance of those images and indeed other high-profile individuals across the UK who had similarly not followed the advice which was there for everyone to follow.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –