BISHOP Cahal Daly last Friday called for a rethink on how the Royal Ulster Constabulary conducts its policy on paramilitary funerals. His statement followed angry clashes between police and mourners at the funeral of reputed IRA man Laurence Marley, killed recently by the Ulster Volunteer Force.
In his statement the bishop denied that a funeral is the place for a paramilitary "propaganda coup", and, anxious that some Protestants may see the Catholic Church as condoning sectarian violence, stated that "the Catholic funeral liturgy is in no way the commendation of the acts of a deceased person, but. rather a recognition that we have all sinned..."
"Both paramilitary demonstration and police saturation are an intrusioninto family grief and are offensive to the Catholic Church's ministry to the dead and to the grieving", he continued.
Whereas the bishop was sympathetic to the difficulties of policing a community "so deeply and bitterly divided as ours", he contended that the RUC must be seen to employ the "same criteria" at Loyalist as well as at Nationalist events.
He drew attention to the "massive concentration" of personnel deployed at recent funerals which he said "have been amply demonstrated to be provocative and counterproductive," and called for the police to provide positive guidelines which they expect mourners to observe at funerals and which they also would undertake to observe.