This is funny. Remember that ‘controversial’ Stormont investigation into Nama from a year ago? That’s where Jamie Bryson made a reference to Person A, then revealing at the end it was none other than Peter Robinson…
It was great melodrama, but who wrote the script? Allison Morris reveals this morning that it was none other than a party constituency worker for the Chair of the Committee at the time, Daithi McKay.
Mr O’Hara messages Bryson saying: “A wee suggestion for your closing paragraph. When talking about Robinson refer to him as ‘Person A’. So say all you have to say about him referring to him as Person A. Then in your final line say: person A is Peter Robinson MLA.
“Means the committee cannot interrupt you and means that you don’t have to say Robbos name until the very last second. So then it’s job done”.
Now there’s there’s nothing wrong with preparing witnesses. But that’s the committee’s job, not the chair’s party. There’s no precedent for the Chair’s constituency office writing the witness’s script for them.
There are questions about McKay’s conduct of the inquiry. His preparation of the witness omitted critical supporting evidence being circulated to committee members beforehand.
Indeed, in light of that absence, a request from Judith Cochrane (the exchange is telling) to allow members to ask questions during the process of Bryson’s oral evidence was quietly pushed aside by the Sinn Féin chair.
In other places, this would be seen as collusion. And anywhere else the chair would step down whilst an investigation is allowed to take place. In Stormont, don’t hold your breath.
At the very least it gives the opposition something to bowl at. And, perhaps, give others who also have fed Mr Bryson with interesting material something serious to think about.
Actually, it’s not that funny at all.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty