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McGuinness insists he had no knowledge of Bryson coaching

Martin McGuinness said he was pleased the DUP had made a complaint to Stormont's standards commissioner about Daithí McKay. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has again insisted that he had no knowledge of Daithí McKay’s coaching of flag protester Jamie Bryson.

Stormont's opposition parties remain sceptical that the Sinn Féin leadership knew nothing about the former North Antrim MLA's dealings with Mr Bryson, ahead of the loyalist blogger giving evidence to the assembly's finance committee last year.

Speaking in Derry’s Bogside yesterday, Mr McGuinness said some people had tried to link the Sinn Féin leadership and himself in particular with Mr McKay’s actions.

"Daithí McKay was a first class public representative but, by his own admission, he made a terrible mistake and he has resigned his position as an elected representative in the assembly for the people of North Antrim," he said.

"I think from that perspective I don’t think he had any other choice. I think that was the right decision."

Mr McGuinness said it was important that claims that others within the Sinn Féin leadership had given consent to Mr McKay’s actions be dealt with.

"Does anybody think for one minute that I would even contemplate being involved in anything that would involve someone like young Bryson, who has effectively got his own agenda which is about ill will towards Peter Robinson, or even be involved in anything that Bryson would be involved in – is absolutely ludicrous in my opinion,” Mr McGuinness said.

As it emerged that DUP chairman Lord Maurice Morrow has lodged a complaint about Mr McKay's actions with Stormont commissioner for standards Douglas Bain, Mr McGuinness said he welcomed the move.

Read full Nama coverage

"I want to see that complaint expedited and I do believe that the outcome of that will vindicate everything that I have said over the course of the last 24 hours about the non-involvement of the Sinn Féin team at the assembly. I have absolutely no concerns about that whatsoever," he said.

Mr McGuinness said he could give a categorical assurance that no-one within the Sinn Féin leadership was involved. He said that any difficulties that might arise would the DUP would be overcome as they had in the past.

First Minister Arlene Foster has yet to comment on the matter and is understood to be on holiday.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has confirmed that Mr O'Hara has been suspended from the party over his role in the exchanges with Mr Bryson.

Who is Thomas O'Hara?

Last night, a statement from Mr Bryson denied that he had leaked the Twitter messages at the centre of the controversy.

The loyalist blogger said he intended to write to Secretary of State James Brokenshire to initiate a public inquiry into the Nama's sale of Project Eagle. Mr Bryson said an inquiry was not forthcoming he would seek a judicial review.

He said he stood by the allegations made last year to the finance committee.

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