Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has spoken of his “deep sense of personal loss and sadness” at the death of his friend of many years Bobby Storey.
Gerry Adams said:
“Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbrón a ghabháil le teaghlach Storey.
“Bobby Storey was a stalwart of the struggle for Irish freedom for almost 50 years. As a young teenager growing up in North Belfast he witnessed, like many others of his generation, the violence and bigotry of the Unionist state, and then of the British Army. The introduction of internment in August 1971 and the murder of 14 civil rights marchers in Derry in January 1972 were two huge influences on his young life. Big Bobby chose to make a stand against these injustices. He was interned aged seventeen, one of the youngest internees, and in the decades that followed he spent over 20 years in prison.
“Bobby had a sharp, insightful political mind. He embraced the opportunity for building the republican struggle and advancing our goal of Irish Unity created by the peace process. At countless republican meetings he spoke in favour of Sinn Féin’s peace strategy. And when, following years of negotiations, the potential emerged for republicans to engage with the new policing dispensation Bobby played a leadership role in persuading others to grasp this new opportunity.
“Bobby was one of the bravest people I have ever had the honour to know. Whether inside or outside of prison, or through the years of harassment and beatings, arrests and torture from the RUC and British Army, Big Bobby demonstrated time and time again his enormous personal commitment and courage.
“He was also one of the funniest people I know. Big Bobby made light of his stammer. He could hold a group spellbound with his stories of past escapades and derring do. His accounts of life in prison in England were hilarious. He was kind, thoughtful, oyal and very giving.
“Bobby was part of an amazing group of people who over recent decades have formed a cohesive, effective collective leadership. During his time as Chairperson of Belfast Sinn Féin and of the Sinn Féin organisation in the North, Sinn Féin grew in electoral strength and representation. Big Bobby was loved and respected. In recent years as he battled his illness Bobby remained cheerful.
“He refused to allow it to prevent him from functioning as an activist. Last year he took on the task of reorganising the Sinn Féin Art/book shop on the Falls Road. As ever there were no half measures. The place was gutted out, completely redesigned and he took a personal interest in deciding what items would be on the shelves and helped design some of them. No task was too small or too great.
“Big Bobby’s death is a huge political blow for republicans but is also a very personal loss for all of us who knew him. There were tears shed across Ireland as comrades got news of his death.
“On behalf of Colette and myself and our family I extend my sincerest and deepest sympathies and solidarity to Teresa, their children and grandchildren, his brothers Seamus and Brian, his sister Geraldine, his extended family circle and his many friends.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”