Belfast Telegraph

Decision not to prosecute Gerry Kelly over PSNI Land Rover incident will damage loyalist faith in policing, warns Nigel Dodds

BY CLAIRE GRAHAM

The decision not to prosecute a Sinn Fein MLA for attempting to block a police Land Rover will do nothing to restore loyalist faith in policing, it has been claimed.

Anger followed the revelation last night that Gerry Kelly will face no charges after hanging on to the grille of a PSNI Land Rover during nationalist protests at an Orange Order parade in Belfast.

Unionists demanded Gerry Kelly be charged after he was carried for a short distance, clinging to the front of the vehicle.

He claimed he tried to speak to officers involved in the arrest of a teenage boy after the Tour of the North parade last summer.

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 according to sources close to the inquiry. Instead, Mr Kelly was given an informed warning by police last night.

"I was given an informed warning relating to my actions in standing with the community in Carrick Hill during an Orange parade last summer," 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."

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds expressed astonishment at the PPS's decision.

"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 said.

"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."

TUV leader Jim Allister said: "This is political policing in action. This will do nothing to restore loyalist faith in policing, but, rather, it will perpetuate the present disconnect."

FACTFILE

Q What is an informed warning?

A This is a formal reprimand by the police, and although it is not a conviction, it is recorded on the person's criminal record for 12 months.

Video of incident via Sinn Fein's YouTube channel

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