Minister ‘must stand aside’ over SF scandal

Finance Minister Mairtin O'Muilleoir
Finance Minister Mairtin O'Muilleoir

There were calls yesterday for Stormont Finance Minister, Sinn Fein’s Mairtin O Muilleoir, to stand aside.

Parties across the Assembly raised questions about Mr O Muilleoir’s role in the scandal which saw two Sinn Fein colleagues accused of coaching a committee witness about NAMA property deals.

Former Finance Committee chair Daithi McKay and a colleague in his constituency, Thomas O’Hara, were both stood down after tweets emerged in which they were seen to coach loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson on how to name former First Minister Peter Robinson in a Stormont inquiry about NAMA property deals.

Tweets among the three mentioned Mr O Muilleoir’s role in the committee hearings at the time – he has since become Stormont Finance Minister – and questions have since been mounting from other political parties sceptical that he could have been outside the strategy.

One committee source said he was consistently the dominant figure throughout the NAMA committee hearings.

Finance Committee member and UUP finance spokesman Philip Smith MLA bluntly challenged the minister.

“Mairtin O Muilleoir should stand aside as Finance Minister until the truth is known about the full extent of allegations that members of Sinn Fein coached a witness at a Stormont inquiry,” he said.