Bryson sought revenge for Dervock band - report
Bryson sought revenge for Dervock band - report


A dispute over a sectarian loyalist parade through the mainly nationalist town of Rasharkin last week is being linked to the “leak” of private messages targeting Sinn Fein Assembly member Daithi McKay.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson is being accused of taking revenge against Mr McKay, who was forced to resign his post earlier this month, after he helped lobby the Parades Commission to prevent a notorious loyalist band from taking part in the County Antrim parade.

According to the Sunday Life newspaper, Bryson reportedly told his cronies that by leaking private messages from Mr McKay about his appearance before a Stormont committee, he could end his political career and also bring pressure for a full public inquiry into the scandal over the sale of properties in the north of Ireland.

The controversy over the Rasharkin parade began when independent councillor Padraig McShane was spat at and taunted by masked loyalists during a parade in nearby Ballycastle on July 12. Mr McShane suffered a serious head injury when he was violently arrested in the subsequent scuffle.

Last week, after coming under nationalist pressure, the Parades Comission refused permission for the band involved, the ‘Dervock Young Defenders’, to march in last week’s Rasharkin parade. That march passed off relatively peacefully on Friday, August 19th.

Bryson is a prominent loyalist marcher and ‘flags’ protestor who has a reputation as a publicity-seeker. His insistence that he was not responsible for the transcript ‘leak’ won few believers, and he lost further credibility when he claimed some messages he received from McKay had been removed from the transcript, a claim he then failed to substantiate.

Refusing to comment further, he says: “My focus is on the legal preparation for the pending application to the Secretary of State asking for a full public inquiry into NAMA (the Dublin government’s National Asset Management Agency).”

Mr McKay was forced to resign last week because the messages showed that he communicated inappropriately with Bryson on how to present his testimony to the Stormont Finance Committee investigating NAMA’s dealings in the North. Through the account of another Sinn Fein member, Bryson was advised how to present his evidence of corruption against the DUP leader Peter Robison without being interrupted or blocked by DUP committee members.

The loyalist was called to the committee after making a number of online allegations relating to 7 million pounds in an offshore bank account linked to the deal which had allegedly been earmarked for a politician in the Six Counties.

Bryson told the committee that former DUP leader Peter Robinson was to receive a payment upon its completion. Robinson, who has since quit politics, continues to deny that he was to profit from the sale of the portfolio to the American company Cerberus.

Sinn Fein has made clear that Mr McKay had been acting on his own initiative and had “paid the price”. Speaking in Derry’s Bogside, Mr McGuinness blasted McKay’s actions as “profoundly disturbing” and also derided allegations that he was part of a conspiracy to damage the former DUP leader.

“Does anybody think for one minute that I would even contemplate being involved in anything that would involve someone like young Bryson, who has effectively got his own agenda which is about ill will towards Peter Robinson,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s current Finance Minister in the Six Counties, Mairtin O Muilleoir, also issued a statement making clear he had “absolutely no knowledge” of the communications, and rejected calls to step aside while Stormont’s Finance Committee holds an investigation into the ‘back channel’ communications.

Although the current DUP leader Arleen Foster said the messages were a “disgraceful attempt to impugn and discredit” her former colleague, her party has indicated it is ready to move past the controversy.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has selected Daithi McKay’s predecessor at Stormont to replace him. Philip McGuigan returns to the assembly, having previously served as a Sinn Fein Assembly a decade ago, representing North Antrim at Stormont from 2003-2007. The father-of-four is currently a Sinn Fein representative on Causeway Coast and Glens Council.

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