SF MLA was “forced to” cling to front of PSNI landrover

An incident in which Sinn Fein claim that North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly was carried along a street by a PSNI landrover and Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has been referred to the Police Ombudsman, a PSNI spokesman has said.

During disturbances in the Carrick Hill area of north Belfast last night, Sinn Fein has claimed that a PSNI landrover refused to stop for Mr Kelly and that he “was forced” to hold on to a security grill at the front of the vehicle as it moved.
Sinn Fein said Ms Ni Chuilin was injured as she attempted to come to Mr Kelly’s aid.

Photographs are circulating online shows Mr Kelly clinging to the front of a police landrover.

Mr Kelly is a member of the Policing Board which oversees the PSNI.

In a statement Mr Kelly said: “Following the Tour of the North parade, in which there were numerous breaches of the Parades Commission determination by a number of bands, there was a confrontation at the Peters Hill end of Carrickhill where loyalists had attacked nationalist homes.

“Community and political representatives including myself and Carál Ní Chuilín moved quickly to restore calm to the area.

“During this time a 16 year old was arrested. Acting on behalf of his parents I approached the PSNI jeeps in which he was held and asked to talk to the senior officer. We were told that this would happen if we moved aside. We did so yet the landrovers sped off.

“I stopped the third PSNI landrover and demanded to speak to someone in charge. The driver moved the landrover into me forcing to hold on to a security grill on the vehicle when they drove off at speed taking me with them for a considerable distance.

“The group of people who had gathered tried to stop the jeep for my safety and Carál Ní Chuilín was injured in the process and has since been taken to hospital.

“These action were dangerous, reckless and provocative. This is no way to deal with anyone, let alone elected representatives seeking to restore calm to an area in an already tense situation.

“Only a number of weeks ago I attended a conference in Wales which discussed the PSNI handling of these sorts of public order situations and the impact they have on community confidence in policing. Tonight’s incident is a huge backward step in that process.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “The incident involving Mr Gerry Kelly and Ms Carál Ní Chuilín at Peters Hill tonight has been referred to the office of the Police Ombuidsman and they are investigating.”