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Investigation launched over claims SF minister injured in police jeep incident

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly says a PSNI jeep drove at him, leaving him holding on to the security grill of the vehicle for a “considerable distance”. Another MLA was injured in the incident.

Gerry Kelly and the PSNI vehicle
Gerry Kelly and the PSNI vehicle
Image: Screengrab via SinnFeinIreland/YouTube

AN INVESTIGATION HAS been launched over claims that a Sinn Féin minister was injured by a police jeep during a confrontation after the first major Orange Order parade of the summer season last night.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said that a PSNI jeep drove at him during a clash between loyalists and nationalists in  the Peter’s Hill area of north Belfast.

In a statement, Kelly said he had approached the PSNI jeeps in a bid to talk to a senior officer after a 16-year-old was arrested during the confrontation.

“We were told that this [talking to the senior officer] would happen if we moved aside. We did so, yet the landrovers sped off,” said Kelly.

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

Stormont’s Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín was injured as she tried to stop the jeep and was taken to hospital.

In a video taken by Sinn Féin, Kelly can be seen standing in front of the jeep, calling for the driver to pull in. He is carried a short distance down the road as the vehicle continues to drive with Kelly holding onto the bonnet. Other people at the scene run over as the vehicle comes to a stop , including one man who bangs against the side of the vehicle before he is told to cease.

(Video: sinnfeinireland/YouTube)

Kelly said the actions were “dangerous” and “provocative”, and said the elected representatives had been trying to restore calm to a tense situation.

In a brief statement, the PSNI confirmed that the Police Ombudsman is looking into what happened.

“The incident involving Mr Gerry Kelly and Ms Carál Ní Chuilín at Peter’s Hill tonight has been referred to the office of the Police Ombudsman and they are investigating,” the statement read.

A large policing operation was put in place by the PSNI last night for the Tour of the North parade by the Orange Order, which has often been the scene of confrontations between loyalist and nationalist communities.

Chief Superintendent George Clarke, the PSNI District Commander for North and West Belfast said that  Friday’s parade was largely peaceful.

“However, there were a number of incidents which are being investigated by police,” he said.

“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.”

Two people were arrested during the parade: a 20-year-old man was arrested for disorderly behaviour while a 16-year-old was held for provocative conduct, the PSNI said.

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