Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

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'Inaction over Gerry Kelly's ride on police Land Rover is why loyalists don't trust PSNI'

Gerry Kelly on the bonnett of a police landrover
Gerry Kelly on the bonnett of a police landrover

Four months have passed since Gerry Kelly went for an impromptu ride on the bonnet of a police Land Rover.

Despite video footage of the incident, at the time of writing, the Old Bailey bomber has not yet been arrested never mind charged.

The only ‘progress’ came some time back, when the Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member called into a police station for a chat.

Meanwhile, Willie Frazer has been scooped by police on two separate occasions. And Cllr Ruth Patterson was lifted, charged, interrogated and brought before the courts in a matter of days, following comments she made and subsequently withdrew on Facebook.

Similarly, we’ve witnessed the arrest, conviction and sometimes the acquittal of countless others on lesser charges. Unsurprisingly, some now conclude that if anyone other than Kelly hitched a ride on a police Land Rover, they’d already have been arrested and charged.

This has resulted in a marked deterioration in relations between the PSNI and many within non-republican communities who view the apparent dual justice system with suspicion.

The lack of progress in cases such as Kelly’s ensures that encouraging people to pass information to the police is not always easy. From experience, it can be downright thankless.

It’s clear that some, perhaps many, within the community no longer trust Matt Baggott; others simply see him as something of a puppet who has his strings pulled but those who have a contempt for Loyalist communities.

All this comes on the back of the police pulling the investigation into the Claudy Bombing that killed totally innocent people and implicates senior Republicans while the police show absolute determination to hound the members of the Parachute Regiment despite a £200million pounds enquiry clearly stated that the 13 tragic deaths on Bloody Sunday were not planned or premeditated in any fashion.

As the regional chairman of a party which believes in professional and impartial policing, that’s a cause for concern. It should be a concern too for anyone who believes in the concept of a free, fair and shared society. The starting point for any such society must be a situation in which everyone is not just equal under the law, but equally subject to it.

To address such concerns, the Chief Constable and the Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC, must persue the Claudy Bombing investigation regardless of how big the personalities are and explain why is it taking so long to get Gerry Kelly charged and in front of a court.

And similarly, given the police investigation into his behaviour, the question must also be asked of others: how and why can Kelly continue to remain a member of the Policing Board?

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