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Mid Ulster DUP MLA Keith Buchanan has said that images of a funeral procession raise serious questions about adherence to the current regulations on social distancing and the protection of life.

Images of the remains of former Sinn Fein Councillor Francie McNally being taken for burial at St Patricks Church, Ballinderry have been posted online in which a large crowd of people can be seen gathered.

Mr Buchanan said, “This is a hugely difficult time for any family that has lost a loved one. The grieving process has been made more difficult because a wake cannot be held and family members have been unable to attend funerals because of the current regulations in place.

Our number one priority must be to protect life and the images posted online appear to contravene all regulations on distancing and on gatherings of people.

I have spoken with the PSNI today and I believe that ultimately there will be a responsibility upon police to take some form of action. This was not even a spontaneous gathering of family or friends. There was an organised party of men accompanying the coffin alongside a relatively large gathering of other people in attendance.

The grief of all families who have lost a loved one at the current time is exacerbated by the stringent measures which have been put in place. However, those regulations apply to everyone regardless of status. The vast majority of families have complied with the regulations, despite the additional pain this will have added to their grieving process and I pay tribute to their selflessness in playing their part in what must be a united community effort to tackle COVID-19.

As we approach this Easter weekend there is a particular concern that people may relax their guard in terms of social distancing. However the threat from this terrible disease means it cannot be business as usual. Unfortunately that must apply to all aspects of life, including funerals.”