Northern Irish police to question Sinn Fein politicians over funeral

FILE PHOTO: Michelle O'Neill, vice president of Sinn Fein, arrives at the funeral of John Hume at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Police in Northern Ireland are to interview a number of elected members of Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein over whether COVID-19 restrictions were breached during a former member’s funeral in late June, a party spokesman said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement that a number of letters had been issued to individuals who were present at the funeral of ex-Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner Bobby Storey.

The event attracted large crowds despite COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill, the British region’s Deputy First Minister, rejected calls to temporarily step down in the weeks after the funeral because of her attendance.

She later said she regretted any undermining of Northern Ireland’s public health message caused by Sinn Fein leaders’ presence at the funeral.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said the representatives “will contact the police and co-operate with the investigation.”

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Hugh Lawson