Bid to suspend Kelly from Stormont fails

John Manley Political Reporter

AN ATTEMPT to have North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly suspended from the assembly has been thwarted after a Sinn Fein petition of concern received support from the SdlP. a motion by the dUP chairman of Stormont's standards and privileges committee sought to have Mr Kelly suspended from the assembly over an incident last year when he was carried on the bonnet of a police land rover. Alastair Ross's motion came after a report by Stormont commissioner for standards Douglas Bain concluded that Mr Kelly's behaviour at last year's Tour of the North parade in Belfast had breached the assembly's code of conduct.

The commissioner's report found the Sinn Fein MLA had breached a number of aspects of the code, including failing in his duty to uphold the law and not demonstrating positive leadership. at the time of the incident, Mr Kelly said he was trying to stop the PSNI vehicle to speak to the officers who had arrested a 16-year-old boy.

The DUP had hoped to have Mr Kelly excluded from the assembly for five days. However, a Sinn Fein petition of concern, which received the necessary support courtesy of SDLP signatories, means today's vote on the motion is set to flounder.

The assembly yesterday debated the motion in an often boisterous and ill-tempered sitting. during the debate, SdlP justice spokesman Alban Maginness said a five-day ban was not proportional because Mr Kelly had accepted a formal reprimand from the PSNI.

But TUV leader Jim Allister criticised the SDLP for supporting the petition of concern.

"Petitions of concern are a perverse instrument which are unknown to anywhere in the democratic world," the North Antrim MLA said.

The DUP used petition of concern in 2012 to block the exclusion of Jim Wells after the South down MLA was censured for calling Sinn Fein special adviser Mary Mcardle, who was convicted for her role in the murder of magistrate's daughter Mary Travers, a "monster".


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