Daithi McKay became Sinn Fein MLA at 25-years after meteoric rise

The Namaleaks website being accessed in a coffee shop in Dublin as former Sinn Fein Assembly committee chairman Daithi McKay has resigned following allegations that he communicated with loyalist Jamie Bryson before he gave explosive evidence about the Nama property deal
The Namaleaks website being accessed in a coffee shop in Dublin as former Sinn Fein Assembly committee chairman Daithi McKay has resigned following allegations that he communicated with loyalist Jamie Bryson before he gave explosive evidence about the Nama property deal

Daithi McKay was once the face of Sinn Fein’s youth generation.

He became an Assembly member aged just 25 following a meteoric rise through the ranks of a party which has consistently promoted the young and women.

Ex-Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay

Ex-Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay

The keen GAA fan and cyclist from Rasharkin in Co Antrim, now aged 34, has represented North Antrim in the Assembly since powersharing was restored in 2007 and worked for Sinn Fein for more than a decade as a politician and adviser.

He was one of the only Assembly members to have successfully passed his own private member’s bill in the Assembly with the Single Use Carrier Bag Levy Act that led to the introduction of the levy in 2013. He founded an all-party group on climate change and served on the Policing Board which scrutinises the police.

In 2014 he was named cycling MLA of the year by the Greenways voluntary group for his persistent questioning of ministers.

His most high-profile role recently was as chairman of the Stormont Finance Committee which investigated the Nama sale of its Northern Ireland properties portfolio.

The deal two years ago by Ireland’s National Assets Management Agency (Nama) with US investment giant Cerberus involving the £1.2 billion sale of a Northern Ireland property loan portfolio has been dogged by controversy after £7 million linked to it was found in an Isle of Man bank account.

Critics have claimed the arrangement included multimillion-pound fixer fees.

The finance committee inquiry was announced to call top politicians, business and legal figures to give their accounts. Among them were Peter Robinson, the former first minister and DUP leader.

At the time, Mr McKay said: “The most important thing is to drill down and get to the details of this case.

“There is an issue of public confidence, there is an issue that has been raised in terms of some political involvement in this.”

A series of other investigations including one by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) meant the grounds on which the committee could ask questions was strictly limited and some critics accused it of more grandstanding than substance. Nama refused to answer queries at an oral hearing.

Mr Bryson was a high-profile Union flag protester who was convicted of taking part in unlawful public processions during a campaign against Belfast City Council’s decision in December 2012 to limit the number of days the flag flew from the city hall.

The decision to call him to give evidence to the committee was controversial but he insisted he had important information to give.

Mr Robinson has rejected as “outrageous and groundless” an accusation he was to receive a payment linked to Northern Ireland’s largest-ever property sale.

Mr Bryson alleged the DUP leader was among five people to receive a share of a “success fee” linked to the deal.

Much of the inquiry focused on the role of Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan.

Mr Cushnahan was nominated to advise Nama on Northern Ireland by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The committee ultimately recommended tougher rules for public appointments.

The inquiry said “robust systems” are needed to identify “financial or other interests” of nominees to similar posts.

It also recommended the Stormont Executive set out clear “principles and practices” to be followed by ministers when making such nominations.