The anger today in Northern Ireland is very real and very understandable indeed. Yesterday the people here watched as the Deputy First Minister and many in Sinn Fein blatantly broke the guidance on funerals and packed the streets along with hundreds of others to honour senior IRA figure Bobby Storey, we indeed even have ‘selfies’ of Michelle O’Neill smiling along with others at the funeral, arms around her shoulder. How sickening this must be for those who have had to endure the heart-breaking guidance which meant they could not have the funerals they wanted and that their loved ones deserved. I have heard of many people unable to attend the funeral of good friends, relatives and neighbours, doing so because they were following the guidance that Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Fein have been demanding people follow. “No one is exempt” are the words of the Deputy First Minister, well it seems Sinn Fein and the IRA are indeed exempt.
This while sickening and frustrating is of no surprise really to those who know Sinn Fein. They are best known for taking the law into their own hands, from murder by the IRA to Gerry Kelly MLA jumping on top of police land rovers and cutting off a wheel clamps from his car. Their insistence on ‘honouring’ the IRA and those behind some of the worst atrocities in the United Kingdom is nothing new, they do it on a regular basis and will continue to, but even the most hardened person in Northern Ireland must see the image of Michelle O’Neill smiling along with funeral goers, arm around her, and the image will burn into their eyes.
Let’s get one thing straight, I believe any funeral should be permitted to have in attendance the persons grieving family, only the most cruel would deny people that, so Bobby Storey’s family should certainly have been able to attend and pay respects to their family member, however there was absolutely no need for the Deputy First Minister to be there along with other Sinn Fein members and MLA’s at this time, these same people are telling us to not do what they just did yesterday (‘selfies and all)! These are the people who have been on our screens for weeks on end now telling us what we can and cannot do with the family and friends we all love, even when they die. They stood, with their serious and concerned looking faces telling us all how serious this was and how we all needed to make “tough decisions”, until yesterday arrived and those “tough decisions” no longer mattered.
It was not just what happened yesterday that is sickening for so many, it is how it was done. Any credibility that Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Fein had on coronavirus and the guidance is now in tatters, and by association the same goes for Stormont and the Northern Ireland Executive. These past few months have been extremely tough for so many in Northern Ireland, with incredible sacrifices from all, unionist, nationalist and neither. The damage this has done is not to be underestimated and it will only be through the resignation of the Deputy First Minister and an apology from O’Neill and her party that the situation we find ourselves in can be saved, we all await the right thing being done by those who do not have a habit of doing the right thing.