Belfast Telegraph

Jamie Bryson in Stormont: The day Geronimo tore the duct tape from his mouth

The the court protest where Bryson showed up looking like Geronimo with his mouth duct-taped
The the court protest where Bryson showed up looking like Geronimo with his mouth duct-taped
A Stormont police officer watches as Jamie Bryson gives evidence to the inquiry
Jamie Bryson leaving Stormont

By Lindy McDowell

Jamie Bryson before the Stormont finance committee - a bit of a revelation there. In more ways in one.

I've not been a fan of wee Jamie's ever since he first popped up in local news bulletins as self-appointed champion of loyalism cajoling decent working-class people, angered at what they saw as disrespect to their culture, to join an ultimately doomed flag protest.

Some of that protest, as we know, descended into shameful violence. Many young people ended up with criminal records. For those taking part, nothing was achieved.

But Jamie and a few others did make a bit of a name for themselves.

In his white furry-collared anorak, there was always something a bit comical about attention-seeking Jamie. Remember the court protest where he showed up looking like Geronimo with his mouth duct-taped?

Yesterday though the duct tape was off.

After some tense debate, the committee (not unanimously of course) voted to hear his evidence in public session.

Whatever preconceptions some of us may have had about the man, he certainly looked the part. Smartly dressed in a vivid blue three-piece suit.

The haircut is possibly a bit too Aguero, but he would not have looked all that out of place in either the legal or business world.

Yesterday, his evidence involved both.

Nama. The very acronym is enough to make most people turn off. But while Bryson's evidence to the committee was complex, detailed stuff, it was also surprisingly accessible. And totally, totally compulsive.

Having been asked to leave the room while the committee debated whether they would hear what he had to say in public, he returned armed only with a ringed notebook containing his submission and, as he frequently pointed out, copies of emails and other documents to back his claims.

There was an interruption at one point from the needlessly verbose Judith Cochrane to ask if he'd brought copies of these for committee members to peruse. Bryson explained he hadn't. This caused some consternation.

Couldn't they just have ripped the relevant pages out and got someone at Stormont to quickly photocopy them?

Bryson's delivery when he got going - and throughout his evidence session - was clear and uncluttered, with neither legalese nor jargon. Later he denied it had been written for him by someone else.

He certainly didn't sound as though he was reading off a prepared script composed by another party. He knew what he was talking about.

He delivered his evidence in straightforward language and from start to finish it was coherent and comprehensible. And controlled.

Under questioning he remained calm, although a bit snippy with a clearly angry Jim Wells. He refused to divulge his sources.

His most testing moment was when he came under temporary aerial bombardment from a wayward wasp that had somehow (poor wasp!) ended up in a Stormont finance committee hearing. A tiny DUP drone perhaps?

Ducking, suddenly a little flustered, he swatted it away.

It will not be quite so easy to swat away his submission to the committee.

Doubtless Bryson revelled in his moment in the limelight yesterday. But whatever the veracity of his evidence, even his detractors have to concede his delivery was impressive.

And like that wasp that flitted into the same meeting yesterday, he clearly also knows how to sting.

Belfast Telegraph


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