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Sinn Féin’s Stanley compares Covid breaches at Republican funerals to ‘hundreds’ in cortege of slain garda


The funeral of veteran Republican Eamonn 'Peggy' McCourt in Derry last week

The funeral of veteran Republican Eamonn 'Peggy' McCourt in Derry last week

The funeral of veteran Republican Eamonn 'Peggy' McCourt in Derry last week

A Sinn Féin TD has defended breaches of Covid-19 regulations at Republican funerals by comparing them to the “hundreds of people” who attended the funeral of murdered Garda Detective Colm Horkan.

Laois-Offaly Deputy Brian Stanley said there had been “a lot of large funerals” on the island and that footage from the funeral of Garda Det Horkan last summer showed “hundreds and hundreds of people” walking in the funeral cortege.

The TD was asked by the Irish Independent for his views on the latest controversy surrounding the party, after three councillors attended the funeral last Monday of party activist and former Provisional IRA member Eamonn ‘Peggy’ McCourt, who died after contracting the virus.

Footage from the funeral is being reviewed by police for potential breaches of the Covid regulations, which currently state that in Northern Ireland funerals are limited to 25 people.

Speaking this morning, Mr Stanley said that people cannot be stopped from coming to the footpath to pay their respects.

“We can’t stop people from turning out on to the sidewalk to pay their respects when a funeral cortege is passing by. But the rules are the rules and, you know, we’re striving to implement them.

“There have been a lot of large funerals on this island, we had an unfortunate situation last year of the detective garda losing his life.”

He said that footage from the funeral of Det Garda Horkan, who was shot while on duty in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, on June 17, showed “hundreds of people”.

“There was some footage at that funeral as well that did show hundreds and hundreds of people in the cortege behind it. And that's because the person who died was held to a high esteem, the garda that was killed during last year in that street incident in Castlerea. So, it’s understandable that people want to turn out and pay their respects and that’s important.”

When asked if party members should lead by example and not attend these funerals, he said that “the rules are the rules. I haven't seen the footage of it.

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“I have done my best to obey the rules and to stick with the public health advice because it’s really, really important at the moment because of the new variant,” he added.

He said that Sinn Féin encourages people to “obey those basic rules”.

“In doing so, we would urge people to, regardless of who it is, that we obey those basic rules, it’s really, really important, and Sinn Féin stick by that.”

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