Sinn Féin confirms Gerry Kelly took off car clamp with bolt cutters

A Sinn Féin member of the Northern Ireland assembly (MLA), former member of Northern Ireland’s policing board and ex-IRA bomber has been reported to the police for allegedly removing a wheel clamp from his car.

Gerry Kelly was filmed on CCTV in Belfast on Friday using a bolt cutter to apparently cut off the clamp in a gym car park.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesperson confirmed on Sunday that they had received a report of criminal damage in relation to an incident in the Exchange Street area of Belfast city centre on Friday afternoon.

“It is believed that damage was caused to the wheel clamp of a car,” the PSNI said.

Sinn Féin said the incident, which occurred close to the Belfast MAC arts centre, was being dealt with by Kelly’s solicitor.

A party spokesman said: “Gerry Kelly MLA returned to his car after an early morning gym session to find that his car had been made immobile by a clamp just after 7.20am.

“He removed the clamp from the front wheel. He left the device nearby and drove off to pre-arranged meetings … His solicitor is dealing with the matter and he will be making no further comment at this time.”

Kelly later said he had been interviewed by the police adding: “No one can be above the law. I made a voluntary arrangement to meet the police and met them today for interview. I want to get the issue resolved as soon as possible.”

Kelly, who is MLA for Belfast North, was once a member of the local policing board, which holds the PSNI to account. The Ulster Unionist assembly member Roy Beggs claimed the incident took place in a no-parking area.

Commenting on the CCTV footage, Beggs tweeted: “Is Gerry special, above the rules that apply to you and me?”

Kelly, one of Sinn Féin’s two MLAs for Belfast North, is the party’s spokesman on policing. He formerly held the position of junior minister at Stormont and is currently deputy chief whip.

During the Troubles, the veteran republican was convicted for his part in the IRA bombing of the Old Bailey in 1973. Ten years later he took part in a mass escape from the Maze prison.

The incident comes as Sinn Féin seeks to deal with an embarrassing row south of the border involving a Dublin member of the Irish parliament and local city councillor.

The party confirmed at the weekend that councillor Noeleen Reilly has been suspended and Dublin North-West representative Dessie Ellis has been censured over an internal row in the constituency.

The party said the action was taken after Reilly made comments about Ellis to the Dublin media.

Ellis has now apologised for a comment he made about Reilly in local media outlets. The row in the Dublin constituency comes just one week before Mary Lou McDonald replaces Gerry Adams as party president.

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