– 24 June 2013
Unionists have urged the police and prosecution service to investigate Gerry Kelly after the Sinn Fein MLA was carried along on the front of a PSNI Land Rover.
The Ulster Unionist Party said Sinn Fein cannot “pick and choose” the law after the incident in north Belfast on Friday night which also saw Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin injured.
UUP East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs called for the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service to hold Mr Kelly to “the same rigours of the law as he sought for all other citizens when he obstructed a police Land Rover in a dangerous situation”.
The incident happened on Friday evening after the Tour of the North parade. Sinn Fein claims Ms Ni Chuilin was hit by a police Land Rover as she tried to help her party colleague as he was carried on the front of the vehicle for a short distance. The minister was treated in hospital and accused the police of “recklessness”.
Mr Kelly, a North Belfast MLA, had been attempting to stop the police vehicle after a nationalist youth was arrested.
Roy Beggs said: “What would happen if you or I obstructed the passage of a police vehicle?
“What would happen if a flag protester obstructed the passage of a police vehicle?
“Earlier this year Gerry Kelly was reported as saying that the Chief Constable Matt Baggott had ‘lost the plot’.
“Gerry Kelly lost the plot when he obstructed the passage of a police vehicle and he should be subject to the full rigours of the law.”
The incident was filmed by Republican newspaper An Phoblacht:
TUV leader Jim Allister also entered the row and said the two MLAs’ response “raises serious questions about Sinn Fein’s supposed commitment to the rule of law”.
DUP Policing Board Member Jonathan Craig (below) said their “behaviour was completely unacceptable”.
“The Policing Board holds the police to account for their actions, but it is absolutely unacceptable for any member to attempt to direct or obstruct the police in the execution of their duties,” he added. “I will be raising this issue at the Policing Board and also examining fully whether Mr Kelly’s actions are in line with the Code of Conduct for members.”
The Lagan Valley MLA also said there may also be a role for the Committee on Standards within the Assembly.
Last night, Mr Kelly told the Belfast Telegraph he rejected criticism from unionist representatives, calling it “completely hypocritical especially coming after DUP members in particular took part in illegal road blocks and protests over the flag issue”.
“I would remind Jonathan Craig and other DUP members of the Policing Board that they are there to hold the police to account, not other members of the Board,” he said. “On Friday night that is what I was doing, holding the police to account.”
Meanwhile, former Ulster People’s Forum chairman Jamie Bryson is understood to have made a formal complaint at Bangor PSNI station about Gerry Kelly after Sinn Fein released footage of the incident. Bryson is claiming he had been remanded for less and has asked the PSNI to investigate.
The Belfast Telegraph asked the PSNI whether a complaint had been received from a member of the public and whether there was any investigation into Mr Kelly’s actions.
A police spokeswoman said “no comment” could be made, as the initial matter is now being investigated by the Police Ombudsman.
SDLP policing spokesman Conall McDevitt MLA has appealed to fellow politicians to avoid engaging in a “tit for tat debate about policing and parades this summer”.
Mr McDevitt said: “We welcome the immediate referral of the incident involving Gerry Kelly MLA to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.”
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