LAND-ROVER-GATE: POLICE QUIZ SINN FEIN’S GERRY KELLY

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly carried by PSNI landrover during Tour of the North parade

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly carried by PSNI landrover during Tour of the North parade

SINN Féin’s Gerry Kelly has finaly been interviewed by PSNI over an incident at the Tour of the North last month.

The interview at Antrim Road PSNI station was scheduled to take place on Thursday.

However, it was postponed until Friday when Mr Kelly was accompanied by is solicitor to the station for a formal taped interview under caution.

Concerning the incident, Mr Kelly said: “I have no regrets over the incident.”

Footage of the incident showed the assembly member being carried along the bonnet of a police land rover after the event on Friday 21 June.

A police spokesman confirmed on Friday the 60-year-old was interviewed by police and said a report would now be forwarded to the PPS.

Police said the parade was “largely peaceful” but a stand-off followed after a number of nationalist youths tried to run through the bands as they made their way up Peter’s Hill.

The Policing Board member was watched by millions around the world trying to halt a police landrover as it tried to leave the area around Carrick Hill during a republican protest against the Orange Order parade through the area.

After first trying to stop the landrover with sirens sounding, Mr Kelly is seen grabbing onto the grill of the vehicle as it again tried to leave the scene. He is then carried a short distance before it stops.

The Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA said he was trying to find out the whereabouts of a 16-year-old arrested youth.

Mr Kelly had said the incident had overshadowed alleged breaches of restrictions on the march.

“I don’t like the way police handled the situation and let me make this clear, I have not made a criticism of all the police on the night,” he explained.

“I think there was a saturation approach to Carrick Hill which I do object to, but outside of that, we are talking about an incident involving a small number of police, and it was bad policing.”

Mr Kelly has been supported by north Belfast SDLP MLA Alban Maginness in his version of events.

The incident, which also saw Sinn Féin minister Carál Ní Chuilín require hospital treatment on her arm, has been referred to the Police Ombudsman for investigation.

However, unionists want the PSNI to prosecute Gerry Kelly.

DUP Deputy leader Nigel Dodds said Gerry Kelly should not “escape the full rigour of the law” for his actions at Friday’s Tour of the North parade

A stand off between Gerry Kelly and one of the PSNI's riot squad landrovers

A stand off between Gerry Kelly and one of the PSNI’s riot squad landrovers

Mr Dodds headed up a DUP delegation, including MLAs Nelson McCausland and William Humphrey to discuss events at the parade with PSNI at Tennent Street Police Station.

Mr Dodds said the meeting with PSNI North & West Belfast District Commander Chief Supt George Clarke had been “thorough”.

“We established a number of facts.

“Firstly, contrary to the reports from some republicans in the Carrick Hill area, they had no reports of any attacks on residents’ homes last Friday night at anytime during the Tour of the North parade or thereafter,” the North Belfast MP explained.

“Secondly, we established very clearly that there is a thorough investigation underway into the actions of Gerry Kelly and others in terms of obstruction of police on the night of the Tour of the North and we’re very keen to ensure that the law should be seen to apply to everybody whether they’re a member of the Policing Board, an MLA or an ordinary member of the public.

“People in the unionist community have been pursued by police for far less and it’s important that a message goes out that nobody is above the law and that people who obstruct the police in execution of duties will be pursued.”

When questioned about potential breaches by the Orange Order bands taking part at Friday’s parade, DSD Minister Nelson McCausland said the bands had adhered to the determination passing St Patrick’s Catholic Church on Donegall Street.

“It was a very successful and peaceful evening and that’s something that should be welcomed,” he said.

Mr Dodds said reported breach of the Parades Commission determination in the nationalist Carrick Hill area should be seen in perspective.

“When people are actually obstructing police, clambering onto police land rovers and inciting others and provoking others to do the same, that’s a very different category of some technical breach of a Parades Commisssion (ruling),” he said.

He added that police will investigate “everything they have to investigate”.

“I think when people stand back and look at the approach here, they will see a dignified, peaceful, calm, sensible approach on the part of the Loyal Orders and indeed the supporters on the evening, contrast that with the loutish and disgraceful behavior of the Sinn Féin representative and people will make up their own minds about this.”

He said with the tough stance on flag protestors taken by police and prosecutors, that Mr Kelly should not “escape the full rigour of the law” because of his position.

 

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