Jamie Bryson and Martin McGuinness set to appear at Stormont Nama probe

Loyalist flag protester Jamie Bryson and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are set to appear before the Stormont finance committee over Nama's northern property portfolio sale 
Brendan Hughes

A LOYALIST set to appear before the Stormont inquiry into the Nama scandal has hit out that his testimony may be heard behind closed doors.

Jamie Bryson, who is expected to give evidence next Wednesday, branded plans to hold some inquiry sessions in private as "disgraceful".

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is also expected to appear before next week's finance committee as part of its probe into the sale of Nama's northern property loan portfolio.

MLAs launched an inquiry following sensational claims in the Dáil in July that a Northern Ireland politician was set to personally benefit from the £1.3bn deal.

In a series of online posts, Mr Bryson, who rose to prominence through the loyalist flag protests in 2013, has made explosive allegations about political corruption.

He wrote to the committee claiming to have information relevant to the inquiry.

However, his testimony could be heard behind closed doors after a majority of the committee yesterday voted to curtail how some witnesses' evidence should be heard.

All future witnesses must now prove a "direct link" to those involved in the deal if their evidence is to be heard in public session. Those unable show such a link will be heard in private and a transcript, potentially redacted, will be published later.

Both Mr Bryson and Mr McGuinness will now be asked to prove they have such a direct link.

The vote followed a lengthy debate around proposed restrictions. Sinn Féin, SDLP and UUP members argued for open hearings, while the DUP stressed the importance of not airing any evidence that could prejudice legal processes.

Nama was set up by the Republic to clear property loans from bailed out lenders. All parties involved in the northern Nama deal have denied wrongdoing.

It is understood correspondence was sent last week to Mr McGuinness through his ministerial office inviting him to attend the committee on Wednesday.

Although no formal confirmation has yet been received, sources close to Mr McGuinness last night said he does intend to give evidence.

Mr Bryson meanwhile said he would not be silenced if his testimony was held in private.

He said that he would "subvert these anti-democratic censorship attempts by walking straight out of the meeting and releasing exactly the same information into the public domain".


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