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Jamie Bryson leaked Sinn Fein secrets as revenge on MLA McKay over parade

Flag protester was behind leaking of secret Sinn Fein messages to him about NAMA quiz

By Sarah Henderson

Published 22/08/2016

Jamie Bryson gave explosive evidence to Stormont's finance committee about the efforts of Ireland's bank for bad loans to dispose of its Northern Ireland portfolio to US investors
Jamie Bryson gave explosive evidence to Stormont's finance committee about the efforts of Ireland's bank for bad loans to dispose of its Northern Ireland portfolio to US investors
Jamie Bryson
John McAllister
Jamie Bryson

Loyalist Jamie Bryson leaked the secret Nama inquiry messages that ended the political career of Sinn Fein high-flyer Daithi McKay.

The flag protester wanted revenge after Mr McKay, who was forced to resign as a North Antrim MLA, successfully lobbied the Parades Commission to prevent a loyalist band from taking part in a parade last Friday night through the mainly nationalist town of Rasharkin.

Bryson has told pals that by leaking the private messages he also hopes to initiate a full public inquiry into the Nama scandal.

One said: “Bryson has the motive, and has created the environment to enable a public inquiry by bringing Nama back to the fore.

“He has also conveniently ended the political career of Daithi McKay, someone who is a high-profile opponent of loyalist parades.”

Last night Bryson was still insisting he was not responsible for the leak – a claim few politicians, particularly Sinn Fein, are buying.

He told Sunday Life: “I have consistently made clear I was not the leak. It was a gross abuse of privacy.

“Suggestions that I constructed some sort of Machiavellian plot are far-fetched and fanciful. People are giving me far too much credit.

“My focus is on the legal preparation for the pending application to the Secretary of State asking for a full public inquiry into Nama.”

Daithi McKay resigned last Thursday after it emerged he and party colleague Thomas O’Hara ‘coached’ Bryson ahead of his appearance before Stormont’s National Management Agency (NAMA) last year.

Jamie Bryson at a flag protest outside Belfast City Hall
Jamie Bryson at a flag protest outside Belfast City Hall

Leaked tweets show conversations between the three before the loyalist testified at the Finance Committee inquiry, chaired by Mr McKay, into the £1.3 billion sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland property loan portfolio.

The messages show the former Sinn Fein MLA and party colleague O’Hara advising Bryson before he gave evidence.

The loyalist was called to the committee after making a number of online allegations relating to £7 million in an offshore bank account linked to the Nama deal which had allegedly been earmarked for a local politician.

Jamie Bryson watches Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay on television before appearing at Stormont’s Nama inquiry
Jamie Bryson watches Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay on television before appearing at Stormont’s Nama inquiry
Jamie Bryson giving evidence at the Assembly’s finance and personnel committee

Bryson told the committee that former DUP leader Peter Robinson was to receive a payment upon its completion – something the ex-First Minister categorically denies.

Private tweets to Bryson from O’Hara’s Twitter account detail a strategy on making serious allegations without being stopped by the committee, before dropping Mr Robinson’s name in at the end of the session.

Publicly Bryson is claiming that the leak is likely to have come from either he, Daithi McKay or Thomas O’Hara leaving a computer signed into a shared community.

But Sinn Fein insiders have said that if the loyalist thinks his laptop was hacked he should make a complaint to police – something that he is yet to do.

“We’re absolutely confident that Jamie Bryson leaked these private messages,” said one senior source, something Sunday Life’s own sources have backed up.

“The stuff about hacked computers is nonsense. He is the only one to have anything to gain from leaking those private tweets.”

Bryson yesterday told of his belief that the Thomas G O’Hara Twitter account that coached him on what to say at the committee was being operated by ex-Finance Committee chair Daithi McKay.

Thomas O’Hara, a plasterer from Portglenone, has also been suspended by Sinn Fein.

“I believe the person I was corresponding with was Daithi McKay. Sinn Fein were wrong to suspend Thomas O’Hara. He was not involved,” added Bryson.

Bryson has been criticised by some sections of the loyalist community over his relationship with Sinn Fein figures.

But brushing off the jibes, he said: “I’ve broad shoulders. If some people want to waste their time demonstrating how politically unaware they are then that’s a matter for themselves. The more they rant the more it becomes clear they are blind to the bigger picture.”

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