Gerry Kelly 'regrets' car clamp removal: I don't keep bolt cutters in the boot
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly has spoken for the first time about his removal of a car wheel clamp in Belfast.
He said the matter had been settled and that he had paid a £100 fine and a further £50 for the damage done to the clamp to the company involved.
The Sinn Fein policing and justice spokesman said he did not carry bolt cutters around in the boot of his car but had borrowed them from the gym. It, he said, used them to force lockers open when people lost their keys.
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Speaking to BBC Talkback, the veteran politician said he came out of the gym just after 8am noticing his car had been clamped earlier. After calling the clamping company he only got their on-hold music. He said he was under some pressure to get to meetings and had noticed the bolt cutters in the gym.
"I removed the chain and then arranged a meeting with police", he said.
"The matter has been resolved between myself and the company as I have paid a fine."
Mr Kelly had parked in a yellow box in Exchange Street, before attending a nearby gym on Friday. Printed on the yellow box was "no parking," while there were signs on the wall which read "private parking only".
There are a number of other signs on the wall warning of a clamping operation in force. Video footage shows the MLA work at the clamp with bolt cutters before placing it on a wall.
Sinn Fein said Mr Kelly removed the clamp before heading off to meetings. Police are investigating and Mr Kelly was interviewed on Sunday evening.
He said he regretted his actions saying they were on the "spur of the moment" and he felt the clamping was "unreasonable". He said he did not know why his car was clamped and not the others.
"I did what I did, I regret doing it," he added.
"I haven't done it before. People think I carry bolt cutters in my car - to be clear this is the first time I've done it and won't be doing it again."
He said the gym had no idea what he was doing and that he was a regular and that they would not have known what he needed them for. Mr Kelly said he told staff he had an issue with his car and they "couldn't have known," what his intention was.
He said he had never removed a clamp before and would never do so again.
The North Belfast MLA said he wanted to remain in his position as his party's spokesman on policing and justice but that was up to the Sinn Fein leadership to determine.
"My history is an open book," he added.
"I have been involved with policing since the Patten report.. I am capable of doing the job but that is a matter for the party."
He said the reaction to the matter was "purely political" and insisted he was "not above the law". He acknowledged his actions were a "big issue" locally but that his expressing regret was not to do with his being caught.
"I didn't do it to appear on video, but everyone has a phone now," he added.
Belfast Telegraph Digital