Irish Republican News · June 22, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Sinn Féin Minister injured in parade tensions
Sinn Féin Minister injured in parade tensions

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Sinn Fein’s Six-County Minister for Culture Caral Ni Chuilin had to attend hospital tonight after becoming involved in a bizarre incident involving the party’s policing spokesperson, Gerry Kelly, and a PSNI police Land Rover.

At one point, Mr Kelly appeared to be carried on the bonnet of the armoured vehicle during the Orange Order’s highly contentious ‘Tour of the North’ parade in Belfast.

Sinn Fein said Minister ni Chuilin had suffered an injury to her shoulder, and had been discharged from hospital with her arm in a sling.

Mr Kelly, who is a Sinn Fein spokesperson on policing and a member of the Policing Board, said the incident had taken place in the Peter’s Hill end of Carrick Hill after loyalists linked to the parade had attacked nationalist homes in the area.

He tried to intervene on behalf of the parents of a local 16-year-old boy who had been arrested by the police.

Mr Kelly said he had been left “shocked” by the incident.

“I stopped the third PSNI Land Rover and demanded to speak to someone in charge,” he said.

“The driver moved the Land Rover 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.”

Ms Ni Chuilin was among a group of people who tried to stop the vehicle for his safety. She had become injured in the process and had been taken to hospital.

“These actions were dangerous, reckless and provocative,” he said.

“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.”

The parade, one of the most combustible of the marching season, also saw the usual breaches by loyalists of the determinations of the Parades Commission, with sectarian tunes played by a number of bands throughout the parade route.

Nationalist residents held a protest as marchers passed St Patrick’s Catholic Church on Donegall Street. Shortly after the parade, there was a brief standoff with riot police in North Street.

Carrick Hill residents’ spokesman Frank Dempsey once again criticised the Orange Order and Parades Commission.

“It’s clear the Parades Commission determinations are meaningless,” he said.

The Orangemen were being “rewarded” for breaking determinations, he added. “What are the Parades Commission saying to the people of Carrick Hill?”

© 2013 Irish Republican News