Michelle O'Neill asked to step down as NI's Deputy First Minister after funeral attendance
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Michelle O'Neill asked to step down as NI's Deputy First Minister after funeral attendance

DEPUTY FIRST Minister for Northern Ireland and Sinn Féin's Vice-President, Michelle O'Neill, has been asked to step down from her position while police investigate possible Covid-19 lockdown breaches.

On Tuesday, multiple members of Sinn Féin, including party leader Mary Lou McDonald, attended a funeral for senior republican and former IRA member Bobby Storey.

Thousands of people were present at the funeral and there was little to no social distancing involved, drawing anger from people at the perceived hypocrisy from Ms O'Neill, who is in joint power in Northern Ireland, where the current rules are that a maximum of 10 people may attend a funeral.

Ms O'Neill has now faced calls from members of multiple different parties to step down as Deputy First Minister as the PSNI undertake an investigation, including from DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster, who said O'Neill had "stood with me on Monday and made pronouncements about public health advice and on Tuesday she went ahead and broke that health advice".

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Thousands gathered in Belfast to pay their respects to Bobby Storey, including Mary Lou McDonald, Michelle O'Neill and former leader Gerry Adams

Ms O'Neill has refused to step down and maintains that her actions were within public health guidelines and regulations introduced to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Sinn Féin president, Mary Lou McDonald, yesterday spoke in defence of Ms O'Neill, saying "I don't think anybody should be punished or asked to step aside or step down because they attended the funeral of her friend."

She continued to say she herself had nothing to apologise and was honoured to be invited to the funeral, and that if he had passed away a week earlier she would not have attended due to travel restrictions.

"One of the great marks of respect and decency is how you say your goodbyes to people," she said.

While efforts were made to maintain social distancing, "when it is somebody that is known or admired or loved - or somebody loses their life in tragic circumstances, people will come out."

An estimated 120 people were inside the church where Mr Storey's funeral was held, according to the BBC.

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Some have warned this could be Northern Ireland's 'Dominic Cummings' moment; where the public become complacent after seeing a Government official disobeying their own strict coronavirus rules.