The Public Defender’s Office maintains the decision not to charge SF officials for Bobby Storey’s death.
During the pandemic, prosecutors upheld their decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein politicians who attended a large burial for a former IRA leader.
After receiving three official requests, the Public Prosecution Service launched an internal review of the choices in the wake of the significant backlash that followed its announcement that there would be no prosecutions for the scenes at Bobby Storey’s funeral in June.
At a period when harsh Covid-19 laws on public meetings were in force, some 2,000 people lined the streets of west Belfast to pay their respects to the high-profile republican.
Senior Sinn Fein politicians were in attendance, including Stormont Executive politicians such deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, who was in charge of the region’s coronavirus laws.
The burial became the most contentious event in Northern Ireland during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Prosecutors noted a lack of clarity regarding Stormont’s health standards as one of the primary reasons any case would be likely to fail in their original decisions not to prosecute the 24 Sinn Fein lawmakers, which were announced in March.
Another element in the PPS’s decision not to prosecute for violations of the restrictions was police contact with the funeral organizers prior to the event.
Marianne O’Kane, PPS senior assistant director, conducted the review.
Ms. O’Kane, who was not involved in the original determinations, was aided by the opinion of senior counsel who was not affiliated with the PPS.
Following the review, she stated that the PPS’s criteria for prosecution had not been met on evidential grounds in relation of any offence.
Ms. O’Kane noted the same two reasons for the failure of any prosecutions: a lack of clarity about the legislation and early police contact with the organizers.
She stated, “My review of this topic was performed independently of the PPS’s initial decision-making staff.”
“It required a thorough examination of events leading up to and on the day of Mr Storey’s funeral, as well as the background. (This is a brief piece.)