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Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s DUP first minister, has called on the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Simon Byrne, to resign following the announcement that no one will be prosecuted over breaches of Covid rules at the Bobby Storey funeral.
As the report (pdf) from the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland explains, one factor in the decision not to prosecute was the fact that the organisers liaised with police in advance.
The engagement between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the funeral organisers is a factor in no prosecution being made. This is inexplicable. That the police assisted in breaking the law is fundamental and requires further examination. If any senior officer is identified as having approved of or contributed to that decision-making process, then all those senior officers’ positions are untenable.
The position of the chief constable is now untenable and I am calling on him to resign. Sadly, it is now clear confidence cannot be rebuilt with him in post.
Over the last twelve months many have sacrificed the basic right of attending our loved one’s wake or funeral. It was the law but also because it was the responsible step to take at a time when we were trying to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Sinn Fein have acted as though they were above the law. To claim ignorance of the law is no defence when you helped legislate those very same regulations. Hundreds lined the streets dressed in white shirts and black ties and attended a political rally in Milltown Cemetery when the limit on public gatherings was 30. There was a complete lapse of leadership and a public display of arrogance by Sinn Fein’s elected representatives. Public health rules were undermined and irreparably damaged.
More than one in four children in the north-east of England are now eligible for free school meals, after new figures published by the government showed that the numbers have been rising across England since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the 10 months between January and October last year, the proportion of children on free school meals shot up from 17% to nearly 20% nationally, meaning that 1.63m of England’s state school pupils are now in receipt of free lunches. In January 2020 the total was 1.44m.