Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly to be reported to PPS over car clamp removal
Gerry Kelly regrets removing car clamp in rush to attend Stormont talks
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly has said he regrets removing a clamp from his car with bolt cutters in what he described as an "on-the-spot decision".
Video footage of the North Belfast representative cutting off the clamp outside a gym in Belfast city centre went viral over the weekend. Mr Kelly, who is Sinn Fein's policing spokesman, spoke out about the incident for the first time yesterday, revealing his regret and that he has contacted the company that clamped his car.
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He also said he has paid his fine.
Mr Kelly had parked in a yellow box in Exchange Street, before attending a nearby gym on Friday morning.
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.
Mr Kelly was questioned by the PSNI over allegations of causing criminal damage during the incident.
He said on Twitter the meeting with officers had been a "voluntary arrangement".
He also clarified that this was the first time he had cut a clamp off his car.
"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 added.
Mr Kelly also said he had contacted the company, Parking and Enforcement Agency (PEA), paid his fine and now considers the issue to have been resolved.
However, last night the PSNI said it will still be submitting a file on the matter to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).
It will be up to the PPS to decide whether or not the matter should go to court.
A PSNI spokesperson said: "Police can confirm that a 64-year-old male agreed to be interviewed by police at Musgrave Station on February 4, 2018 for an alleged offence of criminal damage.
"Enquiries are ongoing and a report will be submitted to the Public Prosecution Service for their consideration in due course."
A PEA spokesman said it would not be commenting on the matter any further, but added that it is "very rare" for clamps to be removed in such a way.
Mr Kelly also revealed more details about the incident in his statement yesterday, saying he had been leaving the gym just after 8am on Friday to head to Stormont to take part in the talks.
In a statement, he said: "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 into the Mac and asked had they another number for the company.
"I immediately rang that number and this number was out of use.
"I was under pressure to get to the talks meetings.
"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."
Mr Kelly received criticism from other politicians over the incident.
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds queried whether the Sinn Fein leadership would take action against Mr Kelly.
"Will Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald or Michelle O'Neill finally take action when we have their policing spokesperson act like this? Nobody's holding their breath," he said.
TUV leader Jim Allister called for Mr Kelly to resign, and said he would "explore" lodging a complaint with Stormont's Office for the Commissioner for Standards.
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs also called on Mr Kelly to resign, accusing the Sinn Fein man of "demonstrating contempt for private property".