Republican News · Thursday 20 January 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Kelly gets damages from RUC

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast, has received 4,000 compensation and his legal fees paid in an out of court settlement against the RUC.

Kelly received the settlement after it was found that he was falsely arrested and assaulted by the RUC during a protest against the loyalist Tour of the North parade on 21 June 1996.

The Sinn Féin man explained that he went to North Belfast's Antrim Road, where nationalists were protesting against the march, because he was asked to attend as the newly elected Forum member.

``I was asked to go over as an observer. I wasn't in the crowd. I was standing ten to fifteen yards away when the RUC surged forward and jumped me,'' said Kelly. ``They pulled me to the ground, handcuffed me, tore the sleeve off my coat, took me behind a jeep and assaulted me.''

Kelly, though, did not stay in RUC custody for long as he quickly escaped from the back of an armoured Land Rover while still wearing handcuffs.

When Kelly levelled charges of assault against the RUC they in return charged him with assault.

However, the charges against Kelly were thrown out of court by magistrate John Clery, who ruled that Kelly's arrest was unlawful.

Kelly's claim against the RUC was expected to last two days at Belfast's Recorder's Court but Judge Anthony Harte was told on Monday 17 January by a lawyer that the incident had been settled out of court for 4,000 plus legal expenses.

Speaking about the settlement, Kelly said that the award vindicated his position. ``What you will find is that any time anyone makes a complaint of assault against the RUC, they just go ahead and retaliate with an assault charge of their own.

``My case was dismissed from court last year and now today this victory is proof that I was right all along.''

Kelly also used this opportunity to urge negotiations between the Orange Order and residents in North Belfast ahead of this year's parade.

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