Unionists have attacked the SDLP for signing a petition of concern which means a move to suspend Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly over last year’s “Land Rover incident” looks set to fail.
Stormont’s Standards and Privileges Committee had proposed excluding Mr Kelly for five days after he was carried some distance on the front of the police vehicle at Carrick Hill last summer. The MLA later accepted an informed police warning.
DUP MLA Jonathan Craig “slammed” the decision by three SDLP MLAs yesterday to sign a petition of concern with Sinn Fein ahead of a formal vote on the matter today. The vote will not achieve necessary cross-community support.
Mr Kelly’s case was “the most serious breach of the code [of conduct] that the Assembly has dealt with”, said Mr Craig. “The SDLP had the opportunity to table an amendment to the motion under debate today but chose not to. Instead they believe that no sanction should be imposed when an MLA breaks the law.”
However, SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said the proposed suspension was “not proportional”. He had been present at the incident, he said, and Mr Kelly and others had tried to “ defuse the situation”.
But TUV leader Jim Allister said the SDLP were “spineless”, while Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend said the SDLP had “bowed to pressure by Sinn Fein”.