A odd day of low comedy at Stormont’s Finance and Personnel Committee…

What a bizarre day. Early afternoon Twitter went nuts with the ‘news’ that Peter Robinson had been ‘named’ by Jamie Bryson reading studiously from notes and after giving him the pseudonym of Person A he alleged the First Minister was to have been paid money.

When asked by the Committee Chair whether he had any evidence to support his allegations Mr Bryson said that the NCA was in possession of evidence, not himself. In other words, Mr Bryson appears to have no direct evidence of any wrongdoing.

Slightly more interesting was the dFM’s earlier performance. All along he and others had insisted that the First Minister was acting without his knowledge in several meetings, including one with the, erm, former Vice President of the United States.

[How on earth did they sneak him in? – Ed]

There was a mildly heated exchange over the matter when Jim Wells asserted that relevant documents had been sent to a senior Sinn Féin advisor, Dara O’Hagan which, if true, could blow rather a large hole in the secret meeting story that’s been doing the rounds for much of the summer.

Despite that Mr McGuinness was insistent that the draft memorandum of understanding sent to Dublin (and then discounted and set aside as a bizarre ‘debtor’s charter’) was not shared with him.

[Wouldn’t an FOI request for sight of the relevant correspondence sort that one out? – Ed] Well, maybe. And then again, maybe not.

Welcome to the crazy world of NI politics where black is taken for white, though generally not for long. And the public are taken for a ride granted.





  • PeterBrown

    Sean this sounds more plausible to me


  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes uttrely plausable, Peter, but this is still a very misleading story. Mr Watters “sat back” and did not participate in later meetings such as 25th March meeting here, and the actual brokering of the deal seems to have more directly involved Ian Coulter, which makes more sense, as he appears to have managed the movement of the funds and if the letter is at all accurate, may even have appropriated them himself. This simply shows an early claim dating from 2013 (seemingly in a letter never delivered) by Mr Watters, but says nothing about how the mentioned finders fee may have been reconfigured in the minds of those involved the following year other than that they were challenging his claim somewhat by their actions, the very thing that compelled him to draft the letter. While it looks neat, (Watters claims the whole finders fee) it actually takes us no further other than to show that Mr Watters was involved at an earlier point in negotiations, and by implication would have considered himself due for some if not all of the renumeration at a later point after the sucess of negotiations he had had some earlier involvement in was certain. But what was actually being brokered by Ian Coulter’s management of the payment, and how it may have been disimbursed if a public disclosure had not occured, is just as unclear as ever to my mind. Until a full examination of all facts here has been made public, this is as open as ever to speculation.