Michelle O’Neill has defended her appearance, along with Gerry Adams and several other senior Sinn Féin leaders, at the funeral of IRA veteran Bobby Storey amid accusations that it breached coronavirus guidelines.
Mr Storey, who died aged 64, was buried in west Belfast on Tuesday, 30 June.
Muting all the bootlickers who would never have stood up for the people of their communities against British imperialism and therefore haven't a clue about Bobby Storey or how much he was loved by the people of West Belfast and beyond x— Sorcha Ní Olláin 🇮🇪 (@SJTHolland) June 30, 2020
On Monday the Northern Ireland Executive insisted funerals should be attended by no more than 30 people and social distancing measures must be retained to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But the Irish News published several photographs which showed two long lines of Irish Republicans walking behind Mr Storey’s coffin in matching black suits and white shirts.
The irish media are now going to be responsible for dragging the funerals of Det Gda Gerry Horkan and Bobby Storey through an episode of us vs them for pure political gain. Shame on them. pic.twitter.com/OqDo4mHR5L— Michael Doyle (@Mdoyledeise) July 1, 2020
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it would be reviewing footage of the funeral to "consider any suspected breaches” of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations.
Ms O'Neill faced questions about the funeral at Stormont on Wednesday, 1 July.
First Minister Arlene Foster called for her to apologise for her actions, which she said had "undermined" the executive.
Ms Foster said: "It is quite intolerable now that people think that there are some people to whom the law doesn't apply and that indeed there are some politicians who are saying: 'Do as I say but not as I do'."
But Ms O'Neill said: "I am satisfied that my actions are within the regulations and the public health guidance...I think it is unfortunate that a lot of the charges being levelled towards me are political point-scoring, as opposed to actually being about the rules."
The courtage was small in line with guidelines..— damien Lindsay (@limboss12) July 1, 2020
100s of stewards ensured 1000s of onlookers kept their distance.
Well managed and respectful in very difficult circumstances.
Anti Republicans are targeting Michelle O'Neill because they hated Bobby Storey. pic.twitter.com/mnmm1gS1gg
Ms O’Neill, who is Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, insisted the funeral was carried out “in accordance" with the guidelines but she was criticised on social media by many not just for the alleged breach of COVID-19 protocols but for attending the funeral of an unapologetic IRA terrorist.
The BBC said security sources have linked Storey to a number of major incidents during The Troubles and also to the unsolved robbery at the Northern Bank in Belfast in 2004, in which £26 million was stolen.
"Apparently, the coronavirus has mutated to such a degree that it's now able to distinguish between people based on their political beliefs, and makes an exception for United Irelanders." https://t.co/QTSTy8x5BY— Ruth Dudley Edwards (@RuthDE) July 1, 2020
Mr Campbell said: "The people who set the regulations, in other words Michelle O'Neill, have to be very, very clear and precise that they cannot be seen to be physically breaching the regulations that they have set. That is what is causing the anguish and anger in the wider community."