Kelly speech ‘did not glorify terrorism’ (UTV)

A standards watchdog has ruled that a speech made by Gerry Kelly MLA in Castlederg was not in breach of the Assembly code.

Unionist had complained that the Sinn Féin politician had ‘glorified terrorism’ when he spoke at the Co Tyrone gathering last year, which commemorated two IRA bombers.

Scotland’s Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life Stuart Allan was tasked to investigate the incident as an independent acting commissioner.

He concluded that Mr Kelly was “entitled to express his opinion on the matters dealt with in his speech and that no aspect of that speech could reasonably be taken to conflict with the principles and duties set out in the code or to amount to the encouragement of terrorism.”

Ruling that there is “no evidence” the North Belfast politician “was acting in his official capacity as a member of the assembly on that day”, the Acting Commissioner therefore concluded that Mr Kelly “was not in breach of the code of conduct”.

Gerry Kelly had denied making remarks which glorified terrorism during the event marking the 1973 deaths of Gerard McGlynn and Seamus Harvey, whose bomb exploded prematurely.

He had said: “It is a harsh reality of resistance that we lose some of our best activists during armed conflict and Seamus and Gerard along with their other comrades whom we remember here today, paid with their lives.”

West Tyrone DUP member Thomas Buchanan said he is “disappointed” by the ruling.

He added: “It was clear that this speech was carefully worded in order to stay not just within these rules, but just on the right side of the law in terms of promotion of terrorism.

“However, it is right that the acting Commissioner for Standards recognised the huge hurt and distress caused to victims by this speech and the entire event in Castlederg last August.

“Whilst the Assembly Standards Commissioner or the Committee may not have been able to find against Gerry Kelly, there is no doubt that the vast majority of the public in Northern Ireland were appalled by the gross insensitivity displayed by republicans in Castlederg.”


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