Ulster Unionist Leader Mike Nesbitt has called for an urgent investigation into the serious allegations raised in the Belfast media this morning that a Sinn Fein MLA, Daithi McKay, whilst chair of the Assembly’s Finance committee, was involved in what can only be described as coaching a witness prior to an appearance before the committee. The evidence given was crucial to the demise of Peter Robinson, the then leader of the DUP and First minister of Northern Ireland.
The Leader of the Opposition said:
“I am writing to the new Chair of the Finance Committee, Emma Little Pengelly, to call on her to reconvene the committee as a matter of urgency, because if the allegations are true they undermine the very foundations of our devolved institutions.
“From the reports this morning, it looks like Sinn Fein effectively took out the then leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland. It is political dynamite and indicates that Sinn Fein 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 Daithi McKay on a solo run or was it a Sinn Fein operation sanctioned from the top? Certainly the long-standing culture within Sinn Fein is one of centralised control and not of solo runs.
“We also need to know if Martin McGuinness knew about this. Who else in Sinn Fein did and who gave it the go-ahead? And what does Martin McGuinness’s colleague Arlene Foster have to say about it?
“It certainly doesn’t say a lot for their working relationship or the prospect of the First Ministers’ working relationship, given that trust appears to be a very scarce commodity indeed.
“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. We need answers and the public needs reassurance in order to restore confidence in the system and our devolved institutions.”