The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland is to review its decision not charge Michelle O'Neill and 23 other Sinn Féin members with breaches of Covid regulations at the funeral of Bobby Storey.

In a statement, the PPS said it has received a number of requests to review the decision, including one from an elected representative on behalf of a member of the public.

It added: "In line with the procedure set out in the PPS Code for Prosecutors, this process will be carried out by a senior PPS lawyer who was not involved in taking the original decisions on this file.

"This lawyer will be assisted by obtaining the advice of Senior Counsel who is independent of the PPS and was also not in any way involved in the original decisions."

It is understood that Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron is not considering his own position amid the controversy over the non-prosecution decisions announced yesterday.

Earlier, First Minister Arlene Foster warned that confidence in policing in Northern Ireland had reached an all-time low.

She claimed public adherence to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions was at risk due to damaged confidence in law and order caused by a failure to prosecute.

Ms Foster reiterated her demand for PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne to quit over the episode, and suggested that Mr Herron should also consider his position.

The DUP leader also refused to rule out withdrawing her party representatives from the PSNI's oversight body - the Policing Board - if Mr Byrne continued in his job, while she warned Sinn Féin it would not be business as usual at Stormont.

"Confidence is at an all-time low in policing, not just within unionism," she said.

The First Minister's remarks came ahead of tomorrow's emergency sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been recalled from the Easter recess to debate an SDLP motion of censure against Sinn Féin.

Mr Byrne was due to face robust questioning at a meeting of the Policing Board tomorrow.

However, the public session has now been cancelled.

The scheduled private session of the board tomorrow morning will still take place, with Mr Byrne due to be questioned behind closed doors.

The DUP does not have time to table a formal motion of confidence in the chief constable at that meeting but, even if it did at a future meeting, it is unlikely to gain enough support from other board members to pass.

The escalating political row follows yesterday's announcement by the Public Prosecution Service that action would not be taken against 24 Sinn Féin members who were among an estimated 2,000 people who gathered for the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey last June.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, who was among the 24, has reiterated her apology for any damage that had been caused to public health messaging and has expressed determination to rebuild public trust.

The scenes in west Belfast in June unfolded at a time when strict limitations on funerals were in place and led to claims that Sinn Féin had flouted rules it was responsible for creating at Stormont.

Explaining why any prosecution was likely to fail, Mr Herron cited the repeatedly changing and inconsistent nature of Stormont's Covid-19 health regulations and the fact police engaged with the organisers of the funeral around its planning.

Ms Foster has branded as "perverse" the notion that the complexity of legislation is a reason not to prosecute law breakers.

In regard to the PSNI's involvement with the funeral planners, the First Minister said it should be a resigning matter for all senior officers involved, particularly Mr Byrne.

In an interview with BBC Radio Ulster, Ms Foster said: "If people want to ignore that there's a crisis in policing, if Simon just thinks that he can buckle down and keep this job, continue to do what he's doing, that of course is a matter for him but he will not have the support of the Democratic Unionist Party in doing that.

"We are the largest party within Northern Ireland and I think he needs to reflect on that this morning."

Asked if the DUP was considering withdrawing from the Policing Board, Ms Foster said: "We are continuing to discuss how we will take this forward.

"If Simon Byrne believes that he can dig in and stay as Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland then we will have to look at other ways to deal with these issues.

"But I think it is folly for him to ignore, not only the largest unionist party, but the concerns of other unionist as well and of course the wider community across Northern Ireland."

In regard to Mr Herron, Ms Foster said: "Obviously he should look to his position as well."

In terms of the stability of the power-sharing administration and relations with Sinn Féin, Ms Foster said: "I don't think there's any doubt that the relationship has been damaged yet again by the refusal of Sinn Féin to acknowledge that what they did was wrong."

She insisted the PPS decision was "not the end of the matter" and rejected any suggestion things would "carry on as normal".

"If people think that we just carry on as normal when one of the most fundamental breaches of what we were doing at that time should just be brushed on the carpet and forgotten about - that's not going to happen," she said.

Chief Constable insists he will not resign

Chief Constable Byrne has contended the "ambiguity" of the coronavirus regulations is to blame for prosecutions not being brought.

Repeating that he has no intention of resigning, he told BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show he is determined to do his job.

"At the end of the day the key issue that influenced the decision of the Public Prosecution Service was actually ambiguity around the laws that were in force at the time, not the actions of the police service," he said.

"It's been difficult policing Covid here, and indeed across the UK as you've seen, with trying to make sense of fast-paced law.

"We're quite clear that last year at the funeral we thought there were breaches of the health protection regulations and we policed the funeral, and then investigated it on that basis.

"Neither myself nor any of the officers that were involved in this planning operation or policing operation have done anything but follow national good practice."

Chief Constable Byrne defended his officers' actions in liaising with organisers of the funeral.

"There was planning of the funeral after Mr Storey died, there was some contact between the senior officers that we had appointed to police the funeral, and that continued until right up until the day," he said

"That would be normal practice, and indeed we would have been criticised had we not spoken to the organisers at an event like this where we assumed there could well be large numbers of people.

"The critical thing to remember here that when you look at the findings from the director of public prosecutions, he is really clear that actually regardless of what we did or didn't do, which we still stand behind, was the fact that on the day the law was confusing and inconsistent, and that inhibited his ability to bring a prosecution."

Additional reporting PA