This is really good for two sections of your course : Committees and Sinn Fein (Parties)
Essentially the Chair of the important Finance Committee, Daithi McKay from Sinn Fein, has stepped down from his post. This follows allegations that he 'coached' or advised the loyalist blogger, Jamie Bryson over what to say during his questioning by the committee. Bryson was appearing in front of the committee to answer questions over his own allegations about the former DUP First Minister, Peter Robinsons, role in the NAMA scandal. This could have proved potentially very damaging for Peter Robinson and the DUP.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
- This has been such a big issue because committee members are supposed to question any witness appearing before them, not coach them. This would be like a judge advising a witness over what to say or not say in court in order to convict someone. This is wrong for any MLA but the fact that it was the Chair of the committee is a lot worse. They, above all members of the committee, are meant to be impartial and conduct themselves accordingly.
- It clearly seems to show clear issues over the power sharing nature of committees in Northern Ireland: Remember, they were set up to try and create a cross party, cross community role in each department which would foster cooperation, better understanding and better policy. These allegations make a mockery of this. Instead what this highlights is the clear party and cross community division at work. These allegations suggest that Sinn Fein were aiming to use this witness for party political gain. They wanted to try and discredit the DUP through the use of this witness.
RESULTS FOR SINN FEIN?
- The scandal caused by this has wider repercussions as it has clearly caused some division within Sinn Fein over how it was handled. Many felt that Daithi McKay was used very quickly as a scapegoat for this and that many more were involved. 18 members of the Party from North Antrim, including a well known councillor, resigned from the party. It is rare to see any public disunity in Sinn Fein. This may have more twists and turns to it in future.