PPS to review decision not to prosecute anyone over Bobby Storey funeral

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By Q Radio News

The Public Prosecution Service is to review its decision not to prosecute anyone in relation to the funeral of IRA man Bobby Storey last June. 

Yesterday it was announced there would be no repercussions for 24 elected Sinn Fein representatives including the deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill who reported by the PSNI for allegedly breaching Covid regulations. 

The PPS says the review process will be carried out by a senior lawyer who was not involved in taking the original decisions on the file. 

It confirmed it received a number of requests to review the decision, including one from an elected representative on behalf of a member of the public. 

The announcement comes ahead of an emergency sitting of the assembly tomorrow.

MLAs have been recalled from the Easter recess to debate an SDLP motion of censure against Sinn Fein. 

Alliance’s Kellie Armstrong says she understands people are angry but warned against using that as an excuse to ignore the current rules. 

A statement from the PPS said: ''As the Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron indicated yesterday, it is recognised that significant sacrifices and compromises have been made by many families in abiding by both the spirit and letter of the Coronavirus Regulations.  

''It is worth emphasising again that the lack of clarity and consistency within the Regulations (as outlined in the PPS decision rationale) referred to the specific point in time of this particular funeral, and should not undermine the value the Regulations have had overall in protecting public health or their enforceability at other times and in other circumstances.

''The Public Prosecution Service has now received a number of requests to review the decisions taken not to prosecute the 24 individuals reported by PSNI. These include one from an elected representative on behalf of a member of the public.''

It added: ''In line with the procedure set out in the PPS Code for Prosecutors, this process will be carried out by a senior PPS lawyer who was not involved in taking the original decisions on this file. This lawyer will be assisted by obtaining the advice of Senior Counsel who is independent of the PPS and was also not in any way involved in the original decisions.

''We recognise that the prosecutorial decisions are one component part of more holistic concerns expressed recently, as is evident from media reporting and commentary. For the sake of clarity, further enquiry around why the Regulations were amended in short succession before and after the funeral or the conduct of police in engaging with funeral organisers will largely be beyond the scope of any prosecutorial review, save for any bearing they have on whether or not the Test for Prosecution is considered to be met. 

''In terms of any request for further clarification of the PPS decision rationale which issued yesterday, we will not be in a position to provide further comment over and above our public statement given that a review of the decisions is to be conducted imminently.''

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