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Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley says Garda Colm Horkan's funeral is among several 'large funerals' that have taken place

Stanley was responding to a question about a republican funeral in Derry last week.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.
Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.
Image: TheJournal.ie

SINN FÉIN TD Brian Stanley has said that there have been several “large funerals” during Covid-19 restrictions, mentioning the funeral of Detective Garda Colm Horkan as an example. 

Speaking to reporters this morning, Stanley was asked about last week’s funeral in Derry of well-known republican Eamon McCourt at which the PSNI said “a significant” number of people gathered for the cortege.

The Laois-Offaly TD said the individual “was obviously held in high esteem in the community” and that although people needed to abide by the rules it is difficult to stop people turning out. 

“I haven’t seen the footage, and lots of people turned out, we can’t stop people from turning onto the sidewalk to pay their respects to a funeral cortege that is passing by, but the rules are the rules,” he said. 

There have been a lot of large funerals on this island, we had the unfortunate situation last year of the Detective Garda losing his life and there was some footage of that funeral as well that did show hundreds of hundreds of people as well in the cortege behind it.That’s because the person who died is held in high-esteem, the garda that was killed in that incident in Castlerea, so you understand that people want to pay their respects, that’s important. But it’s also important that we uphold the rules. 

Garda Horkan was shot dead in June of last year in the town of Castlerea.

His funeral took place in Charlestown, Co Mayo with then justice minister Charlie Flanagan and former rural affairs minister Michael Ring among those who were present.

Covid-19 restrictions at the time limited funerals to 25 people described as family members or close friends

Asked about his comparison, Stanley said people want to pay their respects to high-profile individuals. 

GARDA FUNERAL_I2A1065 The coffin of Garda Colm Horkan arriving at St James Church in Charlestown on 21 June last year. Source: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

“The point I’m making is there have been several funerals where there have been high-profile people or people held in high respect, you understanding when people want to pay their respects,” he said. 

People will want to turn out and pay their respects, and that garda was held in very high respect, that’s my understanding, in the Castlerea area and around Mayo and people want to turn out, but what I’m saying is it’s important to do so in a safe manner. 

Asked whether the garda’s funeral was carried out in a safe manner, Stanley said: “People can make up their own minds about that, what I’m saying is it’s important people do it in a safe manner.”

“I have done my best to stick by the public health advice because it’s really, really important at the moment because of the new variants. ”

In response to Stanely’s comments today, Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty tweeted: “Rules are rules but……. typical Sinn Fein whataboutery. And kindly stop comparing An Garda Siochana with the Provisional IRA.”

Stanley previously faced criticism and was forced into a Dáil apology after he compared an IRA ambush in 1979 to an attack by the IRA during the War of Independence in 1920.  

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Stanley is the chairperson of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and was speaking today as his party published a bill that would give PAC and the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) additional powers to examine the accounts of organisations that would receive public money. 

The bill would allow organisations that receive less than 50% of their revenue from the State to come before PAC, with Stanley today mentioning the FAI and Pieta House as two examples. 

He said PAC would not tie itself up with smaller amounts of public money.

“Obviously the Public Accounts Committee will be concerned about those ones that receive significant amounts of funding from the State, we don’t want to be tied up tied over time with organizations that get a very small amount, because there could be thousands,” he said. 

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Rónán Duffy

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