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Stormont conduct under microscope

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 19/08/2016

Daithi McKay has resigned over Jamie Bryson coaching allegations
Daithi McKay has resigned over Jamie Bryson coaching allegations

Even by the sometimes bizarre developments at Stormont, the latest political fall-out takes some beating. It has emerged that the former Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay and another Sinn Fein party member briefed the well-known blogger Jamie Bryson before giving evidence to the finance committee concerning the Nama investigations.

Once the details had been made public, Mr McKay had no option but to fall on his sword. He admitted that his contact with Mr Bryson in advance of giving his testimony was " inappropriate, ill-advised and wrong" and he apologised wholeheartedly for what he had done.

The speed of his resignation, only hours after his contact with Mr Bryson became public knowledge, has surprised some hardened politicians and Stormont-watchers.

Sinn Fein's political opponents are having a field day, and are suggesting that Mr McKay's actions were well-known in advance among his senior party members, and that he has been made the "fall guy" in this whole unseemly business.

Hitherto Mr McKay was regarded as a competent Sinn Fein politician with a safe pair of hands, but now his reputation is greatly diminished.

People are asking why he took such a risk with Mr Bryson after his antics with the loyalist flag protest at the City Hall, and his ability to argue that everyone else is wrong but him.

To add to the seriousness of Mr McKay's action, Mr Bryson was giving evidence that included grave and as yet unsubstantiated allegations against the then First Minister Peter Robinson.

The entire unsavoury episode raises further questions about the way in which politics is handled in Stormont.

The finance committee is an important cross-party body that has the remit of keeping a close eye on financial dealings, but it would appear that there is a need for another kind of more effective type of committee which would vet the vetters.

Like most Stormont rows, this will subside sooner or later, but it will leave a sorry residue. After all that we have been through, people are entitled to expect that Stormont politicians on all sides are trying to work together on behalf of all of us.

This latest development would be a bad joke if it was not so serious. The scrutiny will now be on Stormont as never before to ensure that the proper code of behaviour is made to prevail.

Belfast Telegraph

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