Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Kelly accused over vehicle incident

First Minister Peter Robinson has accused Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly of reckless behaviour after he was seen clinging to the bonnet of a moving Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Land Rover.

The DUP leader has waded into the debate on the incident which happened after a contentious Orange Order parade in Belfast.

Mr Robinson said: "Anybody that views the video evidence will consider it to have been reckless and ill-advised. No one should interfere with the police during the conduct of their duties.

"Being an elected representative and even being a member of the Policing Board does not afford him any role in the operation of police or giving police instructions on the site."

The incident is being investigated by the Police Ombudsman and was also raised in the Assembly chamber.

During a visit to a factory in Belfast, Mr Robinson said MLAs should follow proper procedure.

"He (Mr Kelly) felt he had the authority to instruct the police to stop. Anyone who has any misgivings about how police handle the issue, there is a proper process to go through that does not include blocking police in the execution of their duty, that is a bad example to set and I hope it won't have a bearing on the rest of the parading season," he added.

Meanwhile the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, which represents thousands of rank and file police officers, has called for the PSNI to investigate those who were involved in punching and kicking the Land Rover as well as senior politicians who intervened after the arrest of a teenager.

Chairman, Terry Spence said: "These matters are the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation. I am in no doubt a parallel investigation will be launched. There has to be. Not only for those involved in public disorder but also the actions of some politicians."

Video footage shows north Belfast MLA and Policing Board member Mr Kelly being carried a short distance on the front of a moving police vehicle. He later described the actions of the PSNI as reckless and dangerous. Stormont Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin received hospital treatment for an arm injury sustained during the same incident which followed the annual Tour of the North parade in Belfast on Friday night. Both MLAs claimed they were trying to de-escalate a volatile situation.

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