Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly raging over police driver drama
SINN FEIN has branded the PSNI “reckless” after Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin was injured during an incident involving a police jeep at a controversial loyalist parade.
The MLA was hospitalised with damaged shoulder ligaments after the vehicle struck her while she attempted to aid party colleague Gerry Kelly.
He was carried for around 15 yards on the bonnet of the jeep while trying to speak to the officers about the arrest of a 16-year-old.
Loyalist Jamie Bryson has since made an official complaint to the PSNI calling for Mr Kelly to be questioned about obstructing officers.
The PSNI Landrover incident occurred on Friday night after the loyalist Tour of the North parade passed by the nationalist Carrick Hill estate.
At a Sinn Fein press conference yesterday Mrs NI Chuilin, who had her arm in a sling, said: “I got injured when the jeep was driving off and, to be honest with you, we are very, very lucky there are not more serious injuries if not worse in this community.
“There was a bit of recklessness here by some of the people in those jeeps and that is not conduct befitting of the PSNI. We will certainly be challenging it.”
Gerry Kelly added: “To use a jeep in that manner, I can't think of any circumstances where it is acceptable police behaviour to drive off with somebody on the bonnet of a jeep.
“I have already spoken to senior officers and I will be taking this to the Police Ombudsman as well.
“What I am annoyed at is the driver of this jeep and whoever was in charge of him doing something which he should not have done,” said the Sinn Fein MLA.
“I am not making a criticism of every police officer who was here last night. It is in context, but it is bad policing, it did have a huge effect, it does knock things back in this area.”
A PSNI spokesman confirmed the matter is now with the Police Ombudsman. He said: “The incident involving Gerry Kelly and Carál Ní Chuilín at Peter's Hill has been referred to the Police Ombudsman, which is investigating.”
Aside from the arrest of a 20-year-old and 16-year-old, the Tour of the North was peaceful.
Around 1,000 loyalists took part in the march which passed by nationalist protesters who had gathered outside St Patrick's Catholic Church on Donegall Street. Shortly after the parade, there was a brief standoff in North Street as police in riot gear kept rival groups apart.
PSNI Chief Superintendent George Clarke said: “The parade was largely peaceful. However, some incidents are being investigated by police.
“These include suspected breaches of the Parades Commission determination and an attempt by a number of youths to disrupt the procession as it passed Peter's Hill.
“Officers in the area of Peter's Hill quickly brought the situation under control and separated the youths from the procession.”