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Máirtín O'Muilleoir urged to answer what he knew about Jamie Bryson's Nama evidence

The SDLP believes Finance Minister Máirtín O'Muilleoir has questions to answer about the Jamie Bryson coaching affair

FINANCE Minister Máirtín Ó'Muilleoir has been urged to clarify if he knew about his party colleague's coaching of Jamie Bryson ahead of the prominent loyalist's appearance before a Stormont committee hearing on Nama last year.

The messages revealed in yesterday's Irish News between former committee chairman Daithí McKay, his Sinn Féin colleague Thomas O'Hara and Mr Bryson made reference to Mr O'Mulleoir and what questions the South Belfast MLA might ask at last September's hearing.

"I'm just trying to establish what Máirtín or someone can jump upon and say: 'there's no way we can turn him away, this is credible, relevant and in the public interest'," one message from Mr O'Hara to Mr Bryson said.

Another states: "Try to get Máirtín to say something in the meeting, even let him see how comprehensive the document is, so as he knows it's not bullshit."

Mr O'Muilleoir, who was appointed Stormont finance minister in May, was unavailable yesterday and is believed to visiting the Basque Country.

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Sinn Féin said Mr O'Muilleoir played no role in coaching Mr Bryson and pointed to Martin McGuinness's statement which said the deputy first minister and other party personnel at Stormont had no knowledge of Mr McKay's or Mr O'Hara's dealings with the one-time flag protester.

"Having spoken to all relevant personnel in the assembly I am now entirely satisfied that Sinn Féin had no knowledge of any such contact," Mr McGuinness said.

But SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said the finance minister still has questions to answer.

"Did the Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir receive any communication from either the committee chair Daithí McKay or Thomas O'Hara to ensure that Jamie Bryson's evidence was heard in open session?," the Foyle MLA said.

"Was the current finance minister prepped in advance of Jamie Bryson's choreographed appearance at the Stormont Finance Committee?"

Mr Eastwood also demanded to know if Mr McKay or Mr O'Hara had spoken or messaged Mr Ó Muilleoir about appearances before the committee by any other witnesses.

Alliance leader David Ford has also called for Mr O'Muilleoir to clarify if he was aware that Mr Bryson had been coached by his Sinn Féin colleagues.

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