Gerry Kelly interviewed by police after removing clamp from his car

Party leader-elect Mary Lou McDonald has ‘no clue’ why justice spokesman had a bolt cutters

Gerry Kelly of  Sinn Féin.  File photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin. File photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Gerry Kelly has been interviewed by the PSNI for alleged criminal damage after he removed a clamp from his car in Belfast.

The clamp was fitted by a private company called Parking and Enforcement Agency (PEA). It told the Belfast Telegraph it has “reported the matter to the PSNI as we do in all such cases”.

Police received a report of criminal damage in Exchange Street, Belfast, at around 2.20pm on Friday. “It is believed that damage was caused to the wheel-clamp of a car,” a PSNI spokeswoman said.

In a tweet the PSNI said it had interviewed a 64-year-old man at Musgrave police station in relation to the matter.

After the emergence of an online video clip appearing to show Mr Kelly removing the clamp outside a gym, a Sinn Féin statement was issued on behalf of the north Belfast representative on Saturday.

It said the matter was with Mr Kelly’s legal team. “Yesterday, Friday 2nd 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.

“He removed the clamp from the front wheel. He left the device nearby and drove off to prearranged meetings.

“His solicitor is dealing with the matter and he will be making no further comment at this time.”

In a tweet Mr Kelly said “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.”

The party’s leader-elect Mary Lou McDonald, said on Sunday she had “absolutely no idea” why Mr Kelly had a bolt cutter in his car.

Asked if Mr Kelly would be disciplined by the party in relation to the incident, Ms McDonald said: “Gerry’s solicitors are currently dealing with the issue of the clamping. I have to tell you I don’t have the detail on it. We will have to see what flows from that but I’m reluctant to comment any further because I don’t have the facts of exactly what happened and I’m only in a position to say that his solicitors are dealing with the issue, as they should.”

“I have absolutely no clue why Gerry has a bolt cutter in his car and, as I say, he will deal with this issue and as and when I have the full facts in front of me then I’ll form a view on it. As I speak to you, I don’t have them.”

Ms McDonald was speaking at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, where she addressed a commemoration ceremony at the grave of Constance Markievicz, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Irish revolutionary.

TUV leader Jim Allister MLA said the PSNI should investigate the matter and Mr Kelly should resign. He wrote on Twitter: “So now pardon-swaggering SF MLA Kelly thinks he is even above the traffic laws. This must now be a matter for police investigation and action. Time for another SF public rep to resign!”

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the incident is symptomatic of a wider pattern of behaviour by leading Sinn Féin figures.

“They regard themselves as not being bound by the same rules as the rest of society,” he said.

“They preach respect but show little or no respect for people, rules or laws which they disagree with.

“They preach equality but, to them, some are more equal than others.”

Mr Dodds believes what happens next is a “significant test” for Sinn Féin’s leadership.

But he said “nobody’s holding their breath” for Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald or Michelle O’Neill to take action.