Sinn Féin culture minister injured at Orange Order parade protest

Saturday 22 June 2013 22.25
Carál Ní Chuilín was hit and injured by a police landrover during an Orange Order parade in Belfast last night.
Carál Ní Chuilín was hit and injured by a police landrover during an Orange Order parade in Belfast last night.

The Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman is investigating claims by Sinn Féin that one of its Stormont ministers, Carál Ní Chuilín was hit and injured by a police Land Rover during an Orange Order parade in Belfast.

Sinn Féin claim the Culture Minister was struck as she came to the aid of her party colleague, MLA Gerry Kelly.

In a statement, Mr Kelly said he tried to stop a PSNI Land Rover to speak to officers who had arrested a 16-year-old boy.

He claimed the officer drove off - with Mr Kelly clinging to the vehicle.

Both representatives were at a protest by nationalist residents opposed to the annual Orange Order Tour of the North parade.

In a statement, Mr Kelly claimed the PSNI actions were reckless and dangerous.

He said: "The driver moved the Land Rover into me, forcing to hold on to a security grille on the vehicle when they drove off at speed, taking me with them for a considerable distance.

"The group of people who had gathered tried to stop the jeep for my safety and Carál Ní Chuilin was injured in the process and has since been taken to hospital.

"These actions were dangerous, reckless and provocative. This is no way to deal with anyone, let alone elected representatives seeking to restore calm to an area in an already tense situation."

Up to 1,000 people took part in the Orange Order parade through north Belfast.

Two people were arrested during the disturbances in the Peters Hill area which police described as minor.

In a statement the PSNI said the incident had been referred to the ombudsman's office.

"The incident involving Mr Gerry Kelly and Ms Caral Ni Chuilin at Peters Hill tonight has been referred to the office of the Police Ombudsman and they are investigating," a spokesman said.