Northern Ireland

Daithí McKay: A political career dramatically cut short

Daithí McKay was elected to Stormont as Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim in 2007
Image caption Daithí McKay was elected to Stormont as Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim in 2007

Daithí McKay became the youngest member of Ballymoney Borough Council at the tender age of 23.

Even before being elected to that post in 2005, he was involved with Sinn Féin's youth wing Ógra Shinn Féin in North Antrim.

He became an advisor to Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan, and at 25 years old went on to contest Mr McGuigan's North Antrim seat in the 2007 Assembly Election.

Elected as an MLA on the first count with 7,065 votes, Mr McKay came second in the poll behind Ian Paisley's 7,716.

Image caption Mr McKay hugs a colleague after his election as an MLA for North Antrim in 2007

The following month, he became one of the first Sinn Féin MLAs to join the Policing Board.

Sellafield motion

The former Ulster Bank worker rose to prominence in Sinn Féin in September 2007 in a contentious debate over planning issues around the Giant's Causeway.

The following month, an Assembly motion put forward by Mr McKay supporting the closure of the British Nuclear power plant at Sellafield was carried, even though both the Ulster Unionist and Democratic Unionist parties voted against it.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Daithí McKay, right, was chairman of a Stormont inquiry into the £1.2bn sale of Nama's property loan portfolio in Northern Ireland

Ballymena injuries

Before becoming chair of the Finance Committee in 2011, he was education spokesperson for Sinn Féin and deputy chair of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee.

In July 2008, Mr McKay and former Sinn Féin councillor Padraig McShane sustained minor injuries in a dispute with local republican youths in Ballymena.

The dispute arose because of the youths' opposition to the removal of a bonfire to commemorate internment.

Mr McKay said they were in the area "in opposition to criminal and antisocial elements who are using this bonfire as a cover for other activities".

In 2009 Mr McKay's north Antrim home was attacked by dissident republicans.

Image caption Mr McKay defended the NAMA inquiry's decision to take evidence in public from Jamie Bryson

He blamed anti-social elements "masquerading as republicans" and said that they would not deter him from his work.

In 2015 an anonymous caller contacted the MLA's Dunloy office claiming a bomb had been left at his family home, prompting police searches of the property, but nothing was found.

In September 2015, he defended the NAMA inquiry's decision to take evidence in public from loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson.

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