SINN Féin have suspended a party member who coached witness Jamie Bryson who gave evidence to a Stormont inquiry probing the Nama loan book sale.
Thomas ‘The Coach’ O’Hara, along with Daithí McKay, befriended loyalist blogger Bryson before he appeared at Stormont’s Nama inquiry last September and helped him in how to present his testimony.
McKay resigned as an MLA for the party in North Antrim on Thursday and apologised for his actions saying they were an “error of judgement”.
Sinn Fein claims the McKay and O’Hara had acted alone and the party hierarchy knew about the coaching of Bryson.
But political opponents have rejected that the pair acted as “lone wolfs” claiming nothing happens in Sinn Fein without it being cleared first by the leadership.
The revelations came after leaked Twitter messages between Bryson, McKay and O’Hara were first obtained by the BBC Nolan show.
In a bid to gazump the Nolan Show, they were also leaked to the Irish News who hit the streets on Thursday morning with the scoop before the Nolan show boomed onto the airwaves at 9 am.
By then, all the credit was being heaped on the Irish News and its ‘queen of scoops’ reporter Allison Morris.
The Twitter messages were exchanged before Bryson testified last September at a Stormont inquiry which McKay chaired into the multi-million pound ‘fire sale’ of Nama’s Northern Ireland property portfolio.
The inquiry was investigating claims that a politician or political party in Northern Ireland stood to profit from the loan sale.
Last September, Bryson used a meeting of the committee to name former DUP leader Peter Robinson as the individual he referred to as “Person A” in relation to the scandal.
The then first minister of Northern Ireland strongly denied he had sought to benefit in any way from the multi-million pound property deal. But he has yet to sue Bryson for defamation.
On Thursday, McKay said he accepted that his actions were “inappropriate, ill-advised and wrong”.
But Sinn Fein sources say McKay should have quit the party and retained his seat as an independent without having to fall entirely on his sword.
“He has been gutted like a fish. People in the party have done a lot worse over the years and were not treated as badly,” said one Sinn Fein source.
“Daithi made a bad call. So who hasn’t in their political career? ”
The PSNI have yet to make any public statement on whether it will investigate the conduct of Daithi McKay as a public representative.