Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

No charges over Kelly incident

Sinn Fein Gerry Kelly being carried by a police jeep
Sinn Fein Gerry Kelly being carried by a police jeep

A Sinn Fein member will face no prosecution after attempting to block a police Land Rover during nationalist protests at an Orange Order parade in Belfast last summer.

Unionists demanded Gerry Kelly be charged after he was carried for a short distance, clinging to the front of the vehicle, when he claimed he tried to speak to officers involved in the arrest of a teenage boy.

Police and the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire investigated the incident at Carrick Hill last June, and a file was sent to the office of the Public Prosecutions Service.

But there will be no prosecution - a decision which is expected to be confirmed tomorrow, according to sources close to the inquiry.

Instead, Mr Kelly, an MLA for north Belfast was given an "informed warning" by police tonight.

He said: "I believed at the time I did the right thing. 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."

Jim Allister, also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party, said the decision to deliver an "informed warning" was meaningless and amounted to nothing.

He claimed: "This will do nothing to restore loyalist faith in policing, but, rather, it will perpetuate the present disconnect."

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said he was astonished.

He claimed: "The soft handling of this case by the justice system stands in stark contrast to other cases over the past year with custodial sentences given to bandsmen for playing a flute and to others who have obstructed the police in the operation of their duties."

He added: "For him to escape with nothing more than an informed warning will lead to the perception of imbalance within the justice system particularly in comparison to other cases. This does not inspire confidence in the impartiality of the system."

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