Other parties should quit talks if Kelly is an SF negotiator

Morning View

Barring some explanation for his removal of a wheel clamp that is not yet forthcoming, Gerry Kelly MLA should play not part in the talks negotiations.

Sinn Fein has not denied that he removed the clamp in Belfast on Saturday morning. It has said he will be making no further comment on the matter.

The video footage of the episode appears to show that bolt cutters were used.

This incident, if it is as it appears, raises not only grave questions about the political future of Gerry Kelly but about the very political process in Northern Ireland. It is Sinn Fein, remember, that has brought devolution to a halt.

It has done so with a rotating list of red lines, one of which is that the DUP shows integrity, equality and respect. Another was that Arlene Foster step aside as first minister.

In every aspect of its red lines and demands, the party is shown to be hypocritical.

Equality? Far from being the victim of inequality, republicans seem to benefit from it: they have been allowed to get away with everything from spying at Stormont to the Northern Bank heist. Some IRA paramilitaries got comfort letters, while veterans face trials.

And Mr Kelly got only an informed warning when he tried to stop a PSNI van as it detained someone during a republican protest.

Respect? What a joke, from the party of Barry McElduff and Michelle O’Neill eulogising Loughgall mass murderers.

Integrity? If Mr Kelly has shown integrity in this affair, why has he not explained himself? Most people would not even contemplate removing a clamp.

The talks ought to be in peril in any event: it would be a disaster if Sinn Fein got reward for its recent political sabotage.

But specifically Mr Kelly cannot form part of the negotiations until this matter is cleared up. If he is in the talks team today, other parties should walk away.

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