Sinn Fein MLA Daithí McKay resigns over Jamie Bryson 'coaching' storm

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
Jamie Bryson gives evidence at the NAMA inquiry
Jamie Bryson gives evidence at the NAMA inquiry

Sinn Fein MLA Daithí McKay has quit his post over allegations he 'coached' Jamie Bryson before the loyalist gave evidence during the inquiry into the sale of Nama's property portfolio in Northern Ireland.

McKay's resignation comes after the  DUP said the allegations should be investigated by the police.

The Sinn Fein chief whip,  MLA Caral Ni Chuilin, said the North Antrim MLA has resigned with immediate effect.

She said:  "Daithi McKay has resigned as MLA for North Antrim with immediate effect and has been suspended from Sinn Fein.

"His letter of resignation has been submitted to the Speaker's office."

It comes after messages reportedly sent between Daithí McKay MLA and another alleged Sinn Fein member were leaked to the Irish News and the BBC Stephen Nolan Show.

Sinn Fein have distanced themselves from the claims.

Mr McKay was chair of the committee which was set up to investigate the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland property portfolio when an inquiry heard evidence from Bryson last September. 

The inquiry was ordered after TD Mick Wallace claimed that £7m from Nama sales had been siphoned into an Isle of Man bank account - money which he claims was due to be paid to a Northern Irish politician.

Mick Wallace TD

The National Crime Agency is still investigating the allegations.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Sinn Fein said that the party's position has always been about "getting to the truth about the sale of the Nama portfolio".

A spokesperson said: "Sinn Fein have only been made aware of these allegations today and if they are true, then this contact would be wholly inappropriate.

"If such contact did occur it was without the knowledge, involvement or sanction of Sinn Fein.

"Sinn Fein will pursue this serious matter urgently and robustly."

Jamie Bryson has also denied that he was coached in any way by Sinn Fein.

He posted to Twitter: 

Speaking to the Nolan Show, DUP MLA Peter Weir said: "I'm astonished and appalled.

"And if the allegations that have been carried today are shown to be correct and accurate I think it's the most scandalous breach of the position of a committee chair that I've seen."

He added: "I think Mr McKay's position as an MLA is untenable.

"I think he has to, if it's shown to be accurate he has to consider his position as an MLA off the back of this and resign.

"This is something that will be referred to the standards commissioner I think there is also a question that the police need a level of involvement in this.

"I think there is an argument if this is shown to be correct that there is a potential criminal offence.

"That is the scale of it and that is where the focus has to be.

"I think the police do need to investigate this. What we have seen is effectively a conspiracy between two individuals to abuse an inquiry on that basis it has potential of malfeasance of public office.

"And that needs to be taken absolutely seriously."