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Grim reminder of Sinn Fein realities

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Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

There were two issues related to the funeral of Provisional IRA enforcer Bobby Storey which should cause deep concern for anybody with respect for democracy and the rule of law. The first was Sinn Fein's obvious disregard for Covid-19 social distancing rules at the funeral, which was attended by nearly 1,800 men and women dressed in casual paramilitary garb of black trousers, white shirts and black ties, lined up along black flag-draped streets. In itself this was an indication that the party and its supporters believed themselves above the law as was necessarily applied to thousands of families the length and breadth of the island in recent months, a request adhered to with stoicism and dignity by many grieving families at a time of such sadness for them personally and the communities from which they were drawn. That should be a cause of shame for Sinn Fein.

The other serious issue was a subsequent statement by the party leader Mary Lou McDonald that, as Taoiseach, she would have attended the funeral of Mr Storey, the so-called 'director of intelligence' of the IRA at the height of the Troubles.

In effect, Ms McDonald, now the leader of the largest political party in opposition in the Republic, was admitting that, as Taoiseach, she would have represented the Government at the funeral of - in the words of a former Chief Justice and former Minister for Justice here - one of the most senior figures in an organisation "whose object was to overthrow the State and its institutions, if necessary by force". In short, the funeral of a man like Mr Storey is no place for any Taoiseach to be in attendance.