Belfast Telegraph

Jamie Bryson 'snub' row storm in a teacup: Lady Hermon

By Rebecca Black

North Down MP Lady Hermon has poured cold water on claims that she walked out of a sitting of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) to avoid hearing evidence from loyalist blogger and former flag protester Jamie Bryson.

Mr Bryson, who is from Donaghadee in Lady Hermon's constituency, appeared as a witness at the Westminster committee yesterday morning for the session titled 'Devolution and Democracy in Northern Ireland - dealing with the deficit'.

The appearance of a man who became prominent during protests following the democratic Belfast City Council decision to fly the Union flag from City Hall on designated days only caused controversy earlier this week when Alliance leader Naomi Long pulled out of giving evidence, claiming the committee had lost credibility by inviting him.

Mr Bryson was listed as a representative of the group Unionist Voice Policy Studies.

He appeared angry that Lady Hermon, who is the member of the NIAC, was not present during his evidence, and claimed she had absented herself as an act of protest against him.

But in a statement issued to the media yesterday, Mr Bryson said he continued to have "much respect for Lady Hermon and would be more than happy to have a cup of tea and conversation with her to try and understand why she believes that the voice of one of her constituents, and indeed the grassroots unionist group I represent, should be denied the opportunity to engage in an open process such as the NI Affairs Committee".

Lady Hermon told the Belfast Telegraph that she will read the transcript of Mr Bryson's evidence, and said he is welcome to meet her at her office in Bangor.

"Jamie is a constituent of mine, and he knows my door is always open for him to come for a cup of tea and a chat," she said.

"As for attendance at NIAC, it is not compulsory for members to attend every evidence session, but I will certainly read the transcript of his evidence when it is published.

"Meantime, I look forward to putting on the kettle for him at my Bangor office."

Belfast Telegraph

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