SINN FÉIN HAS responded after footage emerged of its Northern MLA Gerry Kelly apparently removing a clamp from his car in Belfast.
Kelly, who serves as the party’s policing spokesman for the North, was filmed from a number of angles removing the clamp from his front wheel on Friday morning.
A pair of bolt cutters appears to be visible on the ground beside the politician in the videos, which have been shared widely online.
Once the clamp is removed, Kelly is seen placing it against a nearby wall before driving away.
After footage of the incident emerged, the party responded with a statement.
“”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,” it said.
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,” the statement concludes.
The party’s president-elect Mary Lou McDonald reiterated earlier today that Kelly’s solicitor is dealing with the issue, adding she has “absolutely no idea or clue why Gerry has bolt cutters in his car”.
The incident has been met with opprobrium in Unionist circles, with TUV leader Jim Allister declaring the “flagrant breach of the law in removing a clamping device is something for which this pardon-swaggering MLA must not escape criminal liability”.
It’s understood that the matter has been reported to the PSNI by the relevant clamping company.
Kelly, a former high-profile IRA operative and political prisoner, has been a Sinn Féin MLA for Belfast North since 1998.
Yesterday was also an active time for the party in the South, with its Ard Chomhairle meeting to discuss an ongoing alleged feud that had developed between TD Dessie Ellis and local councillor Noeleen Reilly in the Dublin North West constituency.
In the aftermath of that meeting, a spokesperson stated that Reilly had been suspended from the party for six months, with Ellis set to face “censure” over the situation.
“There have been ongoing issues within the Dublin North West Constituency,” they said.
These have been examined by Sinn Féin, and the Ard Chomhairle have made a number of recommendations.
Following a complaint from a fellow councillor, Councillor Noeleen Reilly has been suspended from the party for six months. With regard to complaints by Councillor Noeleen Reilly about comments in the media by Dessie Ellis TD, he will be censured by the party.
“As per our party constitution, the people concerned can appeal these recommendations,” the statement concluded.
Ellis subsequently responded to that decision saying he ‘accepted’ it.
“I accept the decision of the Ard Chomhairle, and I apologise for the comments I made in the media about Councillor Reilly,” he said in a statement. ”I now want to move on to represent the people of Dublin North West and to build the party locally.”