Northern Ireland

Nama 'coaching': Reaction from key political players

Daithí McKay Image copyright PA

The resignation of Sinn Féin's Daithí McKay has prompted widespread reaction from the key players and main political parties.

The MLA for North Antrim stood down amid allegations he helped coach loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson, who gave evidence to a Stormont inquiry about the controversial Nama property deal. Mr McKay was chairing the committee at the time.

Mr Bryson, whose evidence included claims that the then First Minister Peter Robinson was set to profit from the deal, told the BBC the coaching allegations were "absolute nonsense".

Daithí McKay, former Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim

"Having reflected on the allegations against me which have arisen in the last 24 hours and consulted with associates, friends and family, I acknowledge and accept that my contact with a witness to the Finance and Personnel Committee's Nama inquiry in advance of his testimony was inappropriate, ill-advised and wrong. I apologise wholeheartedly for this.

"Whilst I don't offer this in any way as a justification for my action, I want to be absolutely clear that my intention was not, as alleged, to coach the witness in question with regard to the substance of his testimony, but rather ensure that the inquiry had full access to the truth with regard to all the issues relating to the Nama scandal.

"This scandal was and remains an unresolved matter of wholesale fraud and corruption at the highest level affecting parties across the board. I hope that my own error of judgement on a matter of process will not provide cover or obscure the real and unresolved questions of substance which remain."

Raymond McCartney, Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle

"I have worked with Daithí in the Assembly over the past nine years and he's a very competent person. He was chair of the finance committee, and people saw him on the floor of the house and how he conducted his business. He was a very good MLA and a very good Sinn Fein activist.

"He has accepted that he made an error of judgement, and he acted accordingly and with the type of integrity you would expect from someone of Daithí's calibre.

"He accepts he acted on his own volition and then took appropriate steps."

Maurice Morrow, DUP chairman

"For some time, the Democratic Unionist Party has had concerns about the nature of the inquiry, how it was conducted and the way witnesses from the party, including the then First Minister were treated.

"It is clear from what is already in the public domain that what occurred is an abuse of the process and the privilege of the committee and it was used to besmirch the good name of the then First Minister and Party Leader Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA.

"We are now seeing what many of us believed, that this was a political dirty tricks operation against Peter Robinson. The fact that this information is now in the public light it again demonstrates, as we already knew, that Peter Robinson was innocent of the scurrilous accusations made against him."

Green Party leader Steven Agnew

"I am shocked by these revelations, which fundamentally undermine trust between parties in the Assembly, and with our constituents.

"The role of committee chair should be carried out with integrity and I am disappointed that this does not appear to be the case in this instance.

"The Standards and Privileges Committee needs to act on this immediately. Given the breach of public office, if this needs to be referred to the PSNI then there should be no obstacles put in the way.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt

"From the reports, it looks like Sinn Féin effectively took out the then leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland. It is political dynamite and indicates that Sinn Féin have run rings around the DUP.

"Where does this start and where does it end? It demands an investigation because if the information is genuine, it begs the question - was Daithí McKay on a solo run or was it a Sinn Féin operation sanctioned from the top? Certainly the long-standing culture within Sinn Féin is one of centralised control and not of solo runs.

"Finally, this situation also raises important questions about the operation of some committees. Is this the only committee on which this happened? We simply don't know. "

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

"The investigation into alleged malpractice and corruption, involving the single biggest property deal in Irish history, is of critical importance to the confidence and accountability of our political institutions and to the North's business community.

"Interference in that investigation only serves the purposes of those who are alleged to have corruptly benefitted from it.

"Sinn Féin don't do lone wolves, they do scapegoats. Today's statement of absolute denial by Martin McGuinness will therefore be naturally met with extreme scepticism."

Alliance leader David Ford

"We need a proper full independent inquiry into the behaviour of Daithi McKay and potentially others.

"We have to continue to see if the behaviour of the two largest parties is in the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland or if it's in the interests of their two parties.

"Clearly there are some very significant issues around Nama which have not been fully teased out. If there's a real issue today, it's around the further loss of public confidence in the behaviour of some MLAs at Stormont and that's damaging to the political process and to all of us."

Related Topics

More on this story