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McDonald and senior Sinn Féin figures criticised for breaching restrictions after attending funeral of ex-IRA member

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(left to right) Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill attending the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey in west Belfast.  Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

(left to right) Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill attending the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey in west Belfast. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

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(left to right) Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill attending the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey in west Belfast. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

MARY Lou McDonald and senior Sinn Féin figures have been criticised for breaching social distancing rules by attending the funeral of senior republican and former IRA member Bobby Storey. 

The Sinn Féin leader and several prominent party figures including her predecessor Gerry Adams, Northern leader Michelle O’Neill, finance spokesman Pearse Doherty, and MLAs Conor Murphy, Gerry Kelly and MEP Martina Anderson were pictured attending the funeral in west Belfast on Tuesday.

They were among hundreds of mourners who attended the event for Mr Storey, who served as the IRA’s director of intelligence and the northern chairman of Sinn Fein. He died last week, aged 64.

The Northern Executive's current guidance on funerals on its website states that a maximum of 10 people should attend a funeral, including a member of the person’s household or close family members and, in certain circumstances, a modest number of friends.

The rules are aimed at stopping the spread of the deadly virus which has killed 2,286 people on the island of Ireland.

After reports of large crowds gathering for the funeral of a former Sinn Féin councillor in April, Ms O’Neill, the North’s deputy first minister, said “no one is exempt” from the guidance on social distancing and funerals.

Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill told Independent.ie: “Lots of people have tragically lost family members in recent months and they have suffered the additional hurt and pain of mourning alone, with greatly reduced support from friends and extended family. Why is the Sinn Fein family different?”

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(left to right) Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill arrive at St Agnes' Church in west Belfast for the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey : Liam McBurney/PA Wire

(left to right) Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill arrive at St Agnes' Church in west Belfast for the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey : Liam McBurney/PA Wire

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(left to right) Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill arrive at St Agnes' Church in west Belfast for the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey : Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Sinn Féin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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