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Nesbitt seeks 'credible' investigation of Stormont row

By Claire McNeilly

Published 22/08/2016

Jamie Bryson

Fresh doubt has been cast over Sinn Fein’s claims that senior members of the party didn’t know about the “coaching” of Nama inquiry witness Jamie Bryson.

North Antrim MLA Daithi McKay resigned after claims that he and party colleague Thomas O’Hara had advised the loyalist blogger before his appearance at the Stormont probe that Mr McKay chaired.

Referring to the allegations of coaching, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said that it had been “the consistent strategy of Sinn Fein to start with flat denials before the truth is revealed about an incident”.

The MLA for Strangford also called for a “credible investigation” and for “a review of policy and practice around Stormont committees”.

“History slaps down Martin McGuinness’ statement,” said Mr Nesbitt.

“For a political party, Sinn Fein’s track record is remarkably consistent, to the point it is clearly a strategy to start with a flat denial of involvement or prior knowledge of an event like the coaching of Jamie Bryson.

“The Deputy First Minister’s words ring hollow, and what we need is a credible investigation. Never mind Martin McGuinness telling us he has spoken to the ‘right people’.

“Who are the right people? And are they amenable to questioning by independent inquisitors?”

Mr Nesbitt also demanded an urgent meeting of the chairpersons liaison group “to review policy and practice regarding interaction between committees and witnesses”.

And DUP MP Sammy Wilson  expressed his doubt over what Mr McGuinness knew about the “coaching”, adding that “all the evidence points to a well planned Sinn Fein strategy to give a platform to Bryson to make his outrageous claims”.

“Since other Sinn Fein members on the committee had to play a part in the questions and the timing of those questions they would at least have had to know that there was a plot to abuse the committee process and privilege, even if they had not been involved in devising it,” said Mr Wilson.

“This makes them as guilty as McKay.”

Mr McKay resigned last Thursday after leaked tweets showed communications between him, O’Hara and Bryson before the loyalist testified before the finance committee.

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