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.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty