Sinn Fein and Policing: One rule for the south and another in Northern Ireland?

So, Gerry Kelly? That moment he took a ride on the front of a PSNI ‘Jeep’ has earned him an informed warning, which is “a formal reprimand by the police, and although it is not a conviction, it is recorded on the person’s criminal record for 12 months”. It’s an alternative to referring the matter to the courts.

In an interview with Karen Patterson on GMU this morning (about 1h49m in) his case with when Ruth Patterson (although he calls her ‘Judith’ at her first mention) received the same ‘punishment’ from the PSNI, for erm, posting a message on Facebook.

Unionist reaction has been predictable:

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds expressed astonishment at the PPS’s decision.

“The soft handling of this case by the justice system stands in stark contrast to other cases over the past year with custodial sentences given to bandsmen for playing a flute and to others who have obstructed the police in the operation of their duties,” he said.

“For him to escape with nothing more than an informed warning will lead to the perception of imbalance within the justice system particularly in comparison to other cases. This does not inspire confidence in the impartiality of the system.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said: “This is political policing in action. This will do nothing to restore loyalist faith in policing, but, rather, it will perpetuate the present disconnect.”

For good measure, there was also the suspended sentence for Marian McGlinchey, having left an evidence trail half a mile wide, for having purchased a phone used to claim responsibility for the Real IRA murders of two soldiers at Massereene Barracks.

Back to Mr Kelly. It seems that whilst party policy in the Republic is that the paths of politicians and the police should never cross, it’s not one that it applies to its own conduct in Northern Ireland.


  • Sp12

    “Unionist reaction has been predictable”

    Almost as predictable as it being unworthy of mention on slugger outside of a post on SF 😉

    There’s a difference between the southern and northern approaches yes. In the south they want to see political influence removed from policing and in the north they have come to the same conclusion as the rest of the nationalist/republican community.
    Policing here will always be political, may as well make sure it’s not as stupidly one sided as it has been since the 20s.

  • DC

    Judith Patterson and Jelly Kerry

  • Comrade Stalin

    There are unionist politicians talking as if this is the first time the police ever went soft on an elected politician when, in fact, Kelly’s treatment is broadly consistent with decades of politicians playing it very carefully when dealing with alleged criminal offences by elected representatives.

    Aside from the matter in the past of Gerry Adams’ criminal prosecution being thrown out in the early 1980s you have a long record, stretching back God knows when, of the police standing back and doing nothing while unionist politicians incite riots, block roads or are involved in illegal parades. During the flags protests several councillors and at least one MLA participated in illegal roadblocks and nothing happened to them.

    The rule of law is being thrown into severe peril by the ongoing attacks on it from both SF and DUP politicians who seek to question PSNI decisions when making arrests or prosecutions. It is impossible for any police force to be 100% consistent in terms of how it applies the law at all times. Accusing them of bias plays right into the hands of those who are trying to destabilize the country.

  • Charles_Gould

    Shouldn’t mcglincheys licence be revoked?

  • Sp12

    “Judith Patterson and Jelly Kerry”

    Is there a sale on apples and oranges today I don’t know about.

    The real comparison is Ruth Patterson and Daryl O’Donnell.

  • Comrade Stalin

    consistent with decades of politicians playing it very carefully when dealing with alleged criminal offences by elected representatives.

    correction : decades of the authorities/police playing it very carefully ..

  • Dec


    There’s also a difference between the rule of law in Derry and Belfast. People convicted of shouting ‘Up the Ra’ at police are currently serving custodial sentences whilst those convicted of hurling masonry at police in Belfast during loyalist riots appear to walk out of Belfast Courts on a weekly basis. We could also point to the current First Ministers rather light sentence received in the South after leading a mob of armed loyalists into Clontibret. So seriously, what is your point?

  • Mick Fealty


    Two points (see, I’ve failed already since I’m explaining):

    One is the one you’ve further illustrated by highlighting how dissidents get treated, ie would an ordinary citizen get away with the gentlest possible rap on the knuckles for doing what GK did?

    The second is that Kelly’s a politician with a privileged seat on the body that oversees the PSNI. Peadar Toibin (rightly in my view) gave Minister Shatter both barrels on his interference with policing at the operational end.

    There’s a gap there. Do we just continue to pretend it does not exist?

  • DC

    Sp12 think harder.



    (Oh btw the Jelly name comes from Jamie Bryson, because from what I can hear he never seems to shut up about Jelly for some reason.)

  • Comrade Stalin

    One is the one you’ve further illustrated by highlighting how dissidents get treated, ie would an ordinary citizen get away with the gentlest possible rap on the knuckles for doing what GK did?

    Quite possibly. Kelly did commit a criminal offence. But on face value his intentions were benign and there was no way harm could have come to anyone as a consequence of his actions except himself.

    Ordinary citizens are let off on police discretion all the time – probably more often than not.

    I share Dec’s objection on the basis that the narrative here is about Sinn Féin getting away with criminal offences, when in fact politicians here in general get away with criminal offences which are more serious, for example blocking roads. Other people too are untouchable, it seems. You can name yourself on TV as a UVF or UDA commander these days without anyone attempting to charge you for membership of a proscribed organization. A serious allegation of leading a terrorist organization remains in place against a named member of the West Belfast District Policing Partnership, and so far apparently nothing has been done.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s more about their two policy approach to politics and policing…

  • DC

    A serious allegation of leading a terrorist organization remains in place against a named member of the West Belfast District Policing Partnership, and so far apparently nothing has been done.

    Where is this someone leading it to?

    Sunday World the new criminal justice system??

  • Politico68

    There will always be a difference in how the authorities deal with issues in the South Compared to the North simply because the South is a normal Democratic society whilst the North is still a somewhat abnormal one.

  • Mick Fealty

    Pol, there’s a always context. So in what way is it okay for politicians to seek to have direct operational control over the cops in NI, but not in the Republic?

  • babyface finlayson

    I don’t think it unreasonable to release Mcglinchey on licence as she had seemingly peripheral involvement in the murders.
    Whatever happened to that chap Brendan Lillis?

  • aquifer

    Ripping the victim card from the hands of murderous irish separatists and sectarian rabble rousers is a great way to protect life.

    As a living breathing being I feel our justice system is working just fine.

    I see no political interference, just competence.

    Reactionaries need reaction and prefer overreaction, here they are trying to deliver killer punches into a big pillow.

    Don’t they look ridiculous?

  • BarneyT

    …and for even more balance…the police officer driving the jeep is to receive the same reprimand…presumably from the PSNI. Nice to see internal accountability.

    I don’t think GK just hopped on to the jeep for the craic. Whilst he should not perhaps have been blocking the path, the jeep should not have proceeded as it did, which has now been recognised…so we have two crimes.

    There is an argument that the police should perhaps engage with someone of GK societal stature instead of almost running him over…something which GK would have to share some responsibility for…as he did stand in front of the jeep. Had a unionist equivalent done the same thing, I am not sure the jeep would have given them a wee ride.

    Society has changed. Had the jeep been grey and the event occurred 15+ years ago, it would not have stopped.

    I’m surprised this article has not been picked up as another bit of SF bashing…I await the calls…

  • Neil

    Different systems in different jurisdictions shocker!

    One size fits all approach to everything not applied, read all about it.


  • iluvni

    ….and what about the thug in the football kit trying his best to punch a hole in the police vehicle (!). Any word if he was charged?

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m listening Neil… Go on?

  • fordprefect

    Charles Gould, “Shouldn’t mcglincheys licence be revoked”? What licence? She was released under the “queens prerogative of mercy” (in effect, a pardon), so therefore didn’t have a licence. of course Owen Paterson would beg to differ when he “revoked” her non-existent “licence”. When asked to produce the “licence” they couldn’t and when asked to produce the “prerogative of mercy” document, well, it fell down the back of a sofa somewhere in Whitehall.

  • Of course in N.I. you can always hire a lawyer to say you are squeaky clean without any supporting explanation when you are suspected of serious wrong doing and that’s that. You can even hire a “doctor” to say that you are mentally ill and can’t withstand police questioning even though your problem is simply one of extreme embarrassment from being outed as a supreme hypocrite as well as having possibly abused your public position(s) which could be determined to be illegal. So it’s disingenupus to simply have S.F named in the blog title.

  • Neil

    I don’t think acting like a prick and jumping on a landrover necessarily qualifies as attempting to have direct operational control of the police. I think he has been punished and lampooned, just like Ruth did for her grossly offensive message (now I didn’t bother italicising that, perhaps you feel it wasn’t grossly offensive, ergo a crime).

    I have personally witnessed the cops letting people off with a stern word for technically stealing, and also for vandalism of a vehicle. However we also know that shouting up the ra, or sporting a tricolour tattoo in front of a Loyalist mob can get you in trouble (though endangering lives and torturing the residents of the lower Falls is ok if you’re in a stolen car), so obviously the PSNI have a certain amount of flexibility in how they deal with crimes (or don’t in Republican areas).

    Then to the difference: the guards have, comparatively speaking, very few accusations of attempting to murder the taxpayers who employ them. Ergo one’s treatment of the police might be influenced by the comparative murderousness of their organisation, and hence the treatment is different in the different jurisdictions due to the different circumstances.

  • cynic2

    “was no way harm could have come to anyone as a consequence of his actions except himself.”

    What about Poor Carol Brown. She was knocked down and her leg was injured we were told. Sure didnt Gerry raise it in the republic? Did she receive any investigation?

    Is she suing PSNI or Gerry was distracting the driver at the time?

  • cynic2

    As for GK and the Policing Board it would seem a bit odd

    ” Mr Kelly …you are a convicted terrorist and bomber who was acquitted of killing a prison officer but because you climbed on the bonnet of a police Jeep you must resign from the Policing Board”

  • fordprefect

    Getting back to the main thread though, it’s all for the optics. It won’t do Kelly’s electoral mandate any harm to see him “jeep surfing” and then being told he has a formal reprimand for the morons that vote for SF. Why didn’t he do something like that outside St. Patricks Chapel? Why do SF tell people to stand like half-wits on the kerb facing St. Patricks holding up a banner and stay silent, while time after time after time unionist bigots ignore every “restriction” the “parades commission” have asked them to abide by? SF leaders (including Kelly) for years called on people to block (ie sit on the road) orange marches on the Lower Ormeau , Ardoyne and the Garvaghy Road etc. The last time that happened in Ardoyne, SF blamed the people from the area for any trouble that ensued (along with, yawn, “outsiders”). People should sit on the road outside St. Patricks, and show the world how the “police” force SF endorsed really deal with peaceful protesters. N/C/R people, wise up to the likes of SF, they are coining it in and they don’t want any bother.

  • Mick Fealty


    I’m struggling with this bit:

    “…the guards have, comparatively speaking, very few accusations of attempting to murder the taxpayers who employ them”

    This is happening despite the oversight of the PBNI/local Justice Minister/Republican dFM?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Kelly walked into the path of a moving police vehicle causing it to stop. His purpose was apparently to question the arrest of another individual, a direct interference with operational policing. The police vehicle then being stopped facilitated a physical attack on the police.

    He will no doubt reap the reward from the nationalist voters in North Belfast for this active service confrontation with Crown Forces.

    However on the bright side given that ‘a formal reprimand’ doesn’t scan well the MOPE minstrels will be challenged to come up with a ballad to keen up at the Felons’ Club to celebrate this ‘action’.

    The McGlinchey judgement is of more concern. This woman provided logistical support in a double murder and walked out of court! The murders remain unsolved. Did McGlinchey assist the police during her interviews by revealing the identities of those she acted with? If she did not was this reflected in her sentence?

    On a side point isn’t it comical that some in the terrorist criminal classes seem to have ready-made mitigation to hand? Unsurprisingly it differs between “combatant forces”. Loyalists terrorists get religion and nationalist terrorists get ill.

  • megatron


    You leave yourelf open to criticism when you ignore the context completely in your opening remarks and just point out the approaches north and south are different – it is quite reasonable for some to reply “obviously”. It is like when my wife tells me I do nothing in the house – obviously not true so end of debate! If she had just started with I dont do enough there could have been a proper analysis.

    Now in the comments you acknowledge there is always a context! The real context might be:

    (i) In the North the Gardai have the overwhelming support of the people they are policing. That is still not the case in parts of the north – in that context if the police allowed GK even give the impression of having an input into operaitonal matters on that night it might have been helpful

    (ii) Policing Board gives elected reps a context for interaction with Police that is absent in the South. I accept this is an oversight role (and not one GK was acting in that night I presume) but nevertheless that is a different context than the south.

    Ignoring the context are we really sure that elected reps in the South behave that differently? See Corrib for example?

  • Mick Fealty

    Context is always important and I’m always open to correction in that regard. If you follow link you can hear Peadar Toibin pointing out that Alan Shatter crossed a line that should never be crossed by a constitutional politician, ie directly interfering with the police.

    There is a line there the party’s reps in NI seem not to recognise, and maybe some of Peadar’s colleagues at Corrib too. It’s a non trivial matter that goes to the heart of how broad societal trust is developed or undermined in policing and justice.

  • Neil

    There is a line there the party’s reps in NI seem not to recognise

    Once bitten twice shy. I know it’s a nice idea to think that on painting the landrovers everything that belongs to our very recent history could be whitewashed from the mind, but we all know that’s nonsense. It doesn’t happen like that. The same cops in slightly different uniforms is what we have, so for the mean time political interference in the police is more understandable than in the south where they didn’t have a Garda Glennane Gang or Mount Vernon.

  • Mick Fealty


    This gets us much closer to the core of the problem.

    “everything that belongs to our very recent history could be whitewashed from the mind…”

    So, for some of us, despite having more checks and balances than any political space on the planet, their minds are telling them that it is still 1969 and counting?

    That’s not an argument I recognise from SF’s long campaign to get P&J devolved to Stormont.. 🙂

  • sean treacy

    Ford prefect,as one of the “morons who vote SF”,I wonder do you ever consider the massively moronic tendancy in your own camp.I see the usual serial letter writers to the newspapers now fuming about Ruth Patterson.Ironically many of those spouting would share platforms both online and at demonstrations where a similar fate for SF leaders would be endorsed as that espoused by Ruth.By the way your posting name sumsyou up perfectly.I am old enough to remember the ford prefect and I can assure you its production was far from Dagenhams finest hour.Slow,noisy and a tendancy to wander all over the road were only some of its more memorable attributes!

  • streetlegal

    I think there is a difference between someone having a little sail on the bonnet of a land rover and someone using the internet to incite sectarian hatred and violence. In both cases though I strongly suspect political interference at the highest level on the judicial process.

  • dodrade

    Sounds like a freudian slip from Kelly, but then Judith would be the first name that comes to his mind when discussing the police.

  • Mick Fealty

    Now now Sean, that piece of man playing almost made me laugh, just try to resist the temptation, however provoked.


    That’s once.

  • megatron

    I think Peadar spoke in absolutes which is always tempting but unfortunately never accurate. Of course there are occasions when politicians should (try to) interfere in operational matters – same goes for any citizen.

    The main point is the threshold for interference should be very high – though obviously (to me anyway) lower in the north than the south.

  • Dec


    What would have been the reaction in the South if Alan Shatter had openly endorsed the murder of the Fianna Fail leadership (posting a message on Facebook) by a proscribed organisation at the annual Bodenstown commeration?

  • babyface finlayson

    “Sounds like a freudian slip from Kelly.”
    Indeed. And Jude White speaking about victims on talkback yesterday referred to victims commissioner Kathryn Stone as Sharon Stone.
    Clearly we are still preoccupied with sex here. I mean sects.

  • jagmaster

    It’s always funny to see Unionist politicians full of faux outrage spitting feathers and getting their knickers in a twist. Warms the heart in the middle of winter.

  • cynic2

    ” One rule for the south and another in Northern Ireland?”

    Why shouldn’t SF have two separate policies? They are two separate jurisdiction and SF have accepted that in the GFA (just dont tell anyone)

  • fordprefect

    Sean Treacy
    I call myself “fordprefect” after one of the main characters in “The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy”. I don’t know what you mean by, “my own camp”, (unlike you, I have a mind of my own). What Ruth Patterson did was totally out of order and I would never share a virtual or real platform with the likes of Patterson or her ilk. Remember that word Sean, “ilk”, you copied it off me when I first posted it in your arguments with Dixie Elliot. I accept I shouldn’t have used the word “morons” to describe Sinn Fein voters and I apologise for that. Most SF voters are by no means morons, but, you have to accept that quite a lot of them only vote for SF to keep the “other soort” out and not because of their policies. I know this sounds like a cliché, but I have a lot of friends in Sinn Fein (members of my family are in Sinn Fein) and I can argue the toss with them, (both friends and family) but we don’t fall out. I have noticed though, that the merest criticism of SF on this and other blogs is met with howls of derision and people being called “dissidents” and “anti-peace process” etc. etc. I personally don’t want to see anyone else being killed in the name of any cause and because I don’t agree with everything that SF does, doesn’t make me a “dissident”.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I wonder had the police officer killed or seriously injured Gerry Kelly for effectively at the very worst jaywalking and obstruction, would it be easy to turn a blind eye while the rest of the world wonder why it is okay to knock someone down just for being a nuissance. The idiot who used his accellerator is responsible for Gerry getting off with next to nothing, not the judges, not the residents, not Sinn Féin and certainly not Gerry Kelly.

  • sean treacy

    Ford prefect ,unfortunately “the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” means nothing to me. Unlike the pseudo intellectuals, office boys and students who predominate on slugger,I inhabit a more practical world.So to me “ford prefect” will forever mean– 1172cc, 3 speed gearbox and revving its head off whilst going nowhere ! Now who or what does that last attribute remind me of !

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Students? On Slugger? ffs sean, have you ever actually met a student?

  • Seamuscamp

    When my friendly local PC looked at the GK incident with me on Youtube, his reaction was that the driver would probably lose his job and the civilian receive a modest fine if the case went to court. Of course the PC isn’t paranoid.

  • sean treacy

    TS ,Have you ever met anyone from SDLP YOUTH ! Young fogies and students to a man and woman !

  • IrelandNorth

    The unemployed often complain that they can’t get a job because they’ve no experience. And they can’t get experience because they’ve no job. Somewhat of a chicken and egg conundrum. Yet, like solutions to the most complicated problems, the answer is relatively straighforward. David Ford should get on to his southern counterpart Alan Shatter, and suggest that current Deputy Assistant Chief Constable (DACC) of the the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Judith Gillespie, be considered for the position of Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Án Gárda Síochána na h’Éireann (ÁGSÉ) for the requisite period to qualify her as PSNI/CC. Matt Baggot’s successor could be contracted for two years. Then if DACC/DC Gillespie wished to head up ÁGSÉ, Commissioner Callanan may have retired in the intervening years. The Commissioners current deputy might equally be seconded to the PSNI for like period. This would not only be good for gender equality, but would go a long way to challenge patriarchal culture in both police forces on the Island.