LANDROVER-GATE: KELLY ‘RAPPED’ OVER OBSTRUCTION OF POLICE VEHICLE

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 MLA Gerry Kelly has received an informed warning from police after jumped on the front of a PSNI landrover last summer.

The former Old Bailey bomber was videoed trying to stop the landrover as it took away a republican protestor to custody for questioning.

It followed an incident after a contentious Orange Order parade in north Belfast during the summer.

Gerry Kelly confirmed he had received an informed warning from the PSNI over hiis “standing with the community in Carrickhill”.

Mr Kelly was criticised by unionist politicians as “reckless” after he stood in front of the landrover to try to speak to police about the arrest of a young man.

He grabbed onto the front grill of the landrover before being carried out down the street.

He added: “I believed at the time I did the right thing,” Mr Kelly said.

“I was part of calming a very difficult situation. I have always believed that this is a matter which should not be brought before the courts.”

In July, after his interview by police, the Sinn Fein MLA 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.

Mr Kelly, 60, a member of the Policing Board, 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 was 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.

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

“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.

“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.”

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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