Sinn Féin criticises 'reckless' policing

Published Saturday, 22 June 2013
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Sinn Féin representatives have described the actions of the PSNI as "reckless" after one of their ministers was injured following a contentious parade in Belfast on Friday night.

Sinn Féin criticises 'reckless' policing
Sinn Féin MLAs Gerry Kelly and Carál Ní Chuilín talk to the media (© Presseye)

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín was taken to hospital following the incident with a police land rover in the Carrick Hill area in the north of the city.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly was also at the scene which followed the Orange Order's annual Tour of the North.

The parade, which began at 7pm, passed through the mainly nationalist area, with around 1,000 marchers and 15 bands taking part.

Police said the march was "largely peaceful" but added that a small number of nationalist youths tried to run through the bands as they made their way up Peter's Hill.

Following a 15 minute stand-off, police sealed off part of the area in an attempt to keep rival groups apart.

I can't think of any circumstances where it's acceptable police behaviour to drive off with somebody on the bonnet of a jeep.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin

Mr Kelly, MLA for north Belfast, said he was talking to young people who had agreed to go home when he was made aware that a teenager had been arrested and was inside a police land rover.

The politician said he spoke to the officer driving the vehicle, who indicated he would pull over so they could speak with the teen's parents.

Instead, Mr Kelly told UTV, the vehicle drove off - an action which he said "annoyed the crowd and I have to say it annoyed me".

He said: "I was there as an elected representative, a member of the Policing Board, and I was told lies. I don't like that."

"I then stood in front of the fourth jeep and demanded to see whoever was in charge. At that stage he rolled the jeep into me.

"I held on to the grill to get my balance because I near fell over. When I held on to the grill he drove off.

"It felt like a lot longer but I suppose he drove maybe 20 yards down the road," Mr Kelly added.

In the minutes afterwards, Mr Kelly said his party colleague, Ms Ní Chuilín, was injured as she came to his aid.

He explained: "Carál had run after the jeep and got injured as a matter of the jeep hitting her as well. She's got torn ligaments in her shoulder."

A PSNI spokesperson has revealed the incident will be investigated by the Police Ombudsman.

However, the Sinn Féin representatives say they remain angry at what happened.

Ms Ní Chuilín said: "I got injured when the jeep was driving off and we are very, very lucky there aren't more serious injuries if not worse in this community.... I was hit by the jeep.

"There was a bit of recklessness here last night by some of the police in those jeeps. That's not conduct befitting of PSNI and we will certainly be challenging it."

Standing in front of a police land rover that is removing someone who has been arrested - that is not what should be happening.

Nelson McCausland, DUP

Mr Kelly said the incident has damaged local residents' confidence in policing.

"I will be taking this further," he added.

"What I'm very annoyed at is the driver of this jeep, and whoever was in charge of him doing something which he should not have done.

Mr Kelly commented: "It's bad policing. It does knock things back in this area."

Nelson McCausland, DUP MLA for the area, said it had been a successful Tour of the North, however he was disappointed to hear of the disturbance involving the police and Sinn Féin representatives.

"It was particularly disappointing when one of them is a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board," he said of Mr Kelly.

"But obviously this will now have to be investigated fully by the police."

Mr McCausland added: "I think it's inappropriate for politicians to interfere with policing in that sort of way.

"We should respect law and order and that should simply not be on the agenda for any politician."

Two males, aged 20 and 16, were arrested during disturbances in the nearby Peters Hill area following the parade.

It is also alleged band members breached Parades Commission determinations and a senior police chief said they are investigating "a number of incidents".

© UTV News
Comments Comments
148 Comments
BORED in Belfast wrote (399 days ago):
When did everyone become so easily offended, there is no flag or song in the world that could offend me. People have different opinions, and different cultures get over it. Live and let live. Many of my Catholic friends come along on the 11th + 12th and enjoy it just as much as me, and dont get offended by any of it... As for Gerry Kelly, aren't our politicans meant to set an example.
Tommy in Co Antrim wrote (400 days ago):
Despite the so called "peace" in 2013 it appears that republican strategy has changed little. When the opportunity arises obstruct a police vehicle using a local SF member (or other suitable uneducated thug) then attack the vehicle and officers inside. Next cry about how you nearly got run over by innocently jumping in front of a moving police vehicle with lights and sirens on (how dare they) to the media and police ombudsman and anyone else who will listen. Very boring, yawn...
G in An Dún wrote (400 days ago):
The disrespect of unionists/loyalists can't even bring themselves to call Caral by her proper name shows their attitude from the get-go. I've seen the footage and if you follow it in a linear fashion you'd then question, how did one loyalist not even get arrested for breaking the law that was set out by parades commission? Gerry stood up literally for his community. Where's your Jim Allister/Billy Hutchenson etc doing likewise? Yeah thats right, sniping and saber rattling about flags as always! Go take a look at your own representatives before judging the real action of two SF MLAs and Alban McGuinness! Well done to the CNR representatives!
Anon in Belfast wrote (400 days ago):
Gerry you should be done for obstructing a police vehicle. Just another excuse to blame the poor PSNI
Inspector Gadget in New Scotland Yard wrote (401 days ago):
Ciaran in Belfast - if you had bothered to check you would know that emergency service vehicles are classed as exempt regards VED or "road tax", and police vehicles specifically are also exempt from the requirement to display a valid tax disc, so stop trying to deflect criticisim of Kelly's & co's foolish actions with your trivia and nonsense please!
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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