Wednesday 19 December 2018

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly 'regrets on-the-spot decision' to remove clamp from car with bolt-cutters

He said he was under pressure to get to talks at Stormont (Niall Carson/PA)
He said he was under pressure to get to talks at Stormont (Niall Carson/PA)

Deborah McAleese

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly has said he regrets removing a clamp from his car with bolt-cutters and has paid his fine.

The North Belfast MLA was reported to police for alleged criminal damage after he was filmed removing the clamp from his car outside a Belfast gym.

He said he was under pressure to get to talks at Stormont when he realised his car had been clamped on Friday.

After being unable to contact the clamping company Mr Kelly said he borrowed blot cutters from the gym and removed the clamp - a decision he now regrets.

He said: "I came out of the gym just after 8am to head to Stormont for talks. I saw that my car had been clamped.

"I phoned the number on the notice and the only response I got was music.

"I then went in to the Mac (Metropolitan Arts Centre) and asked had they another number for the company.

"I immediately rang that number and this number was out of use."

The MLA said he was "under pressure to get to the talks meetings", adding: "I remembered that the gym had a set of bolt cutters and I borrowed them.

"Let me add that staff at the gym were not aware what I was using the bolt cutters for.

"I then removed the clamp. I made an on-the-spot decision which I now regret.

"I have contacted the company and paid the fine. The issue has now been resolved."

The incident happened near the Mac in Belfast. The clamp was fitted by a private company called Parking and Enforcement Agency (PEA).

Footage of the incident was posted on social media.

On Sunday evening Mr Kelly tweeted that "no one can be above the law" and that he had made a voluntary arrangement to meet police for an interview.

He added he wanted the matter resolved "as soon as possible".

His actions were criticised by other political parties.

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