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Source: Traditional Unionist Voice – Northern Ireland

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“The ‘Pledge of Office’ which Michele O’Neill took is clear.

“It committed her “to support the rule of law unequivocally in word and deed”.

“The rule of law, as it affects the current controversy, is emphatically set out in Regulations 5, 6 and 6A of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020. 

“Regulation 5 governs the circumstances in which it is permissible to leave the place where one lives. The applicable reasonable excuse in regard to funerals is clear:

“(g) to attend a funeral of—

 (i) a member of the person’s household,

(ii) a close family member, or

(iii) if no-one within sub-paragraphs (i) or (ii) is attending, a friend;”

Patently, Ms O’Neill’s attendance at the funeral of Bobby Storey on 30 June ticks none of these boxes.

Regulation 6 is equally clear in limiting the number of people who can attend an outdoor gathering. 

Then, there is the Executive Office’s own guidance, which is provided to explain in simple terms the requirements of the legally binding regulations:-

“The funeral should be private and only the following should be there, up to a maximum of 30 people (this figure does not include funeral directors or other people needed to officiate at the service, such as faith/ pastoral representatives, grave diggers and so on), including:

  • members of the person’s household
  • close family members
  • if the deceased has neither household nor family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to be there….

“… Those who do go will need to stick to social distancing – at least two metres/ six feet between people at all times. This includes travelling to and from the funeral….”

“Yet as a rule-giver Ms O’Neill, who has regularly lectured the public on there being no exemptions form these requirements, has the audacity to insist she did nothing wrong!

Has she no shame or no thought for those on whom she inflicted these restrictions when they were burying loved ones? Clearly not.

“The fact that In these circumstances the deputy First Minister can cling to office illustrates the farcical nature of the governmental arrangements under Belfast Agreement devolution. And, all the while, the First Minister is reduced to a plaintiff plea for an apology, but, because she is beholden to Sinn Fein for her own position as First Minister, she swallows hard and carries on while the credibility of the government is shredded by her joint ruler.

“To keep focus on some of the issues I have today tabled the following Assembly Questions:-

Priority Written Question

To ask the First Minister and deputy First Minister what advice has been sought, either from the acting Attorney General or otherwise, as to whether the deputy First Minister breached her pledge of office commitment “to support the rule of law unequivocally in word and deed” by reason of her attendance and actions at the funeral of Bobby Storey on 30 June 2020.

To ask the First Minister and deputy First Minister whether the deputy First Minister was conveyed to the funeral of Bobby Storey on 30 June 2020 in an official Executive car.

To ask the First Minister and deputy First Minister to list the official duties of the deputy First Minister on 30 June 2020.

To ask the First Minister and deputy First Minister whether the deputy First Minister in attending the funeral of Bobby Storey on 30 June 2020 was, having regard to Regulations 5, 6 and 6A of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020, supporting “the rule of law unequivocally in word and deed”, as required by her pledge of office.

MIL OSI United Kingdom