Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly interviewed by police over wheel clamp removal

Screen grabs from social media showing Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly removing a wheel clamp from his car. Picture by Pacemaker
Andrew Madden

Sinn Féin's policing spokesman has been quizzed over alleged criminal damage after a man was filmed removing a clamp from a car.

Gerry Kelly (64) was interviewed about the incident in Belfast city centre on Friday.

He later tweeted: "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."

A PSNI statement said a 64-year-old man was interviewed at a city centre police station.

Social media footage appears to show a man kneeling down to remove the orange device from the vehicle's right-hand wheel, before resting it against a nearby wall.

A pair of bolt cutters appear to be lying beside the wheel.

The private parking firm that controls the area outside the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) near St Anne's Cathedral had reported the matter to police.

His car had been parked over yellow crossed lines at Exchange Street at the rear of the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) on Friday.

Signs warn that restrictions are enforced by the Parking Enforcement Agency (PEA), which is employed by the MAC.

A spokesman for PEA said it “is aware of this incident and has reported the matter to the PSNI as we do in all such cases”.

The MAC was not available for comment yesterday but was reported on Saturday as saying: “Access to a public building such as the MAC is essential, for shows, exhibitions and, most importantly, emergency vehicles.

This area is clearly marked as a no-parking zone and there is signage in the area.” While removing a private clamp may not be illegal, a person can be held criminally responsible for causing damage to it.

Footage widely circulated on social media appeared to show the MLA kneeling beside the clamped wheel and releasing it with bolt cutters.

A sign is visible on the driver-side window of the car reading “STOP” and advising about the clamp.

The area is also clearly marked as restricted and a notice on the wall warns drivers that their vehicles could be clamped. It was unclear whether Mr Kelly had the bolt cutters in his car or obtained them from elsewhere.

Sinn Féin failed to respond to queries.

The DUP said Sinn Fein's leadership faces a "significant test".

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds said he was not holding his breath waiting for action from the republican party's leadership.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said “it must be made clear that no-one is above the law”.

Sinn Fein leader-in-waiting Mary Lou McDonald appeared confused when quizzed on the matter by reporters yesterday.

She said she did not yet have "the facts of exactly what happened" and Mr Kelly's solicitors were dealing with the issue.

When asked why Mr Kelly was carrying a set of bolt cutters, Ms McDonald chuckled: "I have absolutely no idea.

"I have absolutely no clue why Gerry has a bolt cutter in his car."

It is the latest row to hit Sinn Féin after its West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff resigned under pressure after posting a tweet with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the republican Kingsmill massacre in 1976.

In a statement Sinn Féin said Mr Kelly's solicitor was dealing with the matter.

The area behind The Mac in Belfast where Mr Kelly's car was clamped

The video appears to show Kelly, a senior party member, kneeling down to remove the orange device from the vehicle's right-hand wheel before resting it against a nearby wall. Picture by Pacemaker

Sinn Fein 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

PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/02/2018.Screen grabs from social media showing Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly removing a wheel clamp from his car parked in Belfast city centre on Friday morning..Sinn Féin has confirmed that the Northern Ireland assembly member (MLA) Gerry Kelly removed a clamp from the front wheel of his car after footage emerged on social media..The video appears to show Kelly, a senior party member, kneeling down to remove the orange device from the vehicleâ??s right-hand wheel before resting it against a nearby wall..A pair of bolt cutters appears to be lying beside the wheel..A party spokesman said: â??Yesterday, Friday 2 February, 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..

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