Bobby Storey funeral: Cremation inquiry to examine politicians’ role

Roselawn CrematoriumImage copyright

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Belfast City Council apologised for how cremations on the day of Bobby Storey’s funeral were handled

A lawyer investigating events at Roselawn Cemetery on the day veteran republican Bobby Storey was cremated has been asked to look into the role played by politicians.

Peter Coll QC began an independent investigation last week.

He is examining arrangements agreed with Belfast City Council for the cremation.

It is now clear he will investigate the actions not just of council officials, but elected representatives.

The Storey family was allowed up to 30 people outside the crematorium, but the same access was denied to eight other families on the same day.

The council later apologised.

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Mr Coll represented some civil servants in the RHI Inquiry

Mr Coll has been asked to investigate whether “preferential treatment” was sought for the Storey family by any political representatives.

He has also been told to check CCTV footage and to look into any contacts with the PSNI about the arrangements at Roselawn.

On Monday, BBC News NI’s Talkback programme revealed details of Mr Coll’s terms of reference.

Later, Belfast City Council published the terms in full with a total of 14 “key concerns”.

Mr Coll’s remit includes:

  • to review the decision to send some Roselawn staff home
  • to ascertain if any form of “control” was given to persons acting on behalf of the Storey family
  • to review the number of people outside the crematorium

In terms of politicians, Mr Coll has been asked to “review when and if decisions were communicated to elected representatives, which elected representatives they were communicated to and when they were so communicated”.

The lawyer will investigate exactly how decisions were made.

His terms of reference include to “examine whether the decisions were improperly motivated and whether inappropriate influence was brought to bear”.

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PA Media

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Peter Coll QC has been asked to finish his report within six weeks

Mr Coll has been asked to complete his report within six weeks.

The council has made it clear that the eight families denied access to Roselawn will be entitled to talk to Mr Coll.

A council spokesperson said: “Council will ensure that any relatives of families impacted may speak directly with Mr Coll QC should they wish to do so.”

Last week, one of the council officials involved in decision-making around Roselawn, Nigel Grimshaw, retired.

However, Mr Grimshaw, who worked as director of city and neighbourhood services, will still co-operate with the independent investigation.

Mr Coll, an experienced barrister, was one of the lawyers involved in the recent RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) inquiry at Stormont.

BBC News