Gerry Kelly involved in incident at Belfast parade rally
Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast carried on bonnet of PSNI vehicle that failed to stop after he stood in front of it
A video posted on the internet by Sinn Féin shows Gerry Kelly stepping out in front of a moving police Land Rover, waving at the driver. The vehicle keeps moving, whereupon Mr Kelly stands on the bumper and clings to a grille. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
A war of words has erupted between the North’s political parties regarding the actions of Sinn Féin representatives at an Orange Order rally in Belfast at the weekend.
Unionists yesterday rounded on Sinn Féin’s MLA for north Belfast, Gerry Kelly, who was carried on the bonnet of a PSNI vehicle that failed to stop after he stood in front of it on Friday night. Stormont culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín was injured in the same incident and treated in hospital for torn ligaments in her shoulder.
But the SDLP defended Mr Kelly, calling the actions of the PSNI into question and saying the police driver “acted in a very dangerous manner”.
Both Sinn Féin politicians were attending a protest by nationalist residents in the Peter’s Hill area during the Orange Order’s Tour of the North parade, the first big loyalist parade of the marching season.
Video: Belfast protest
While the parade was mainly peaceful, there were isolated outbreaks of violence and alleged breaches of marching restrictions as laid down by the Parades Commission.
A video posted on the internet by Sinn Féin shows Mr Kelly stepping out in front of a moving police Land Rover, waving at the driver. The vehicle keeps moving, whereupon Mr Kelly stands on the bumper and clings to a grille.
Mr Kelly later said he was trying to engage police officers about a 16-year-old boy who had been detained during confrontations between locals and police. A 20-year-old man was also arrested.
Mr Kelly’s fellow Policing Board member, the DUP’s Jonathan Craig, yesterday said it was “absolutely unacceptable for any member to attempt to direct or obstruct the police in the execution of their duties”.
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister agreed that Mr Kelly’s behaviour was “obstruction of the police”, while the UUP’s Roy Beggs said he should be subject to the full rigours of the law”. But the SDLP’s justice spokesman, Alban Maginness, who witnessed the incident, said it was “very badly handled by the PSNI”.
The PSNI said it could not comment as the matter was under investigation by the Police Ombudsman.