Máirtín Ó Muilleoir under pressure as ‘lone wolf' theory queried by Finance Committee

Mairtin Ó Muilleoir is coming under considerable pressure 
Mairtin Ó Muilleoir is coming under considerable pressure 

ALMOST a week since the Irish News broke the story of a secret backchannel between a loyalist blogger and Sinn Féin - private communication that seemed aimed on ending the career of former First Minister Peter Robinson - the scandal rumbles on.

That Jamie Bryson was in contact with his sworn enemies in Sinn Féin prior to giving evidence to the Finance Committee investigating the Nama property scandal is no longer the substantive issue.

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The North Down loyalist has claimed via his Twitter account that the communication was a matter of the tail wagging the dog and achieved his aim of getting into open session.

Bryson has made no secret of his opposition to the devolved institutions and along with TD Mick Wallace had been instrumental in putting damning information into the public domain about the £1.2 billion property fire sale.

Rather what is now being asked is who in Sinn Féin knew about the plot to collude with a hardline loyalist, who has in the past refused to condemn the UVF, in order to force a change of leadership in the DUP.

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was last September a member of the committee that questioned the loyalist about his Nama evidence file.

While he is resisting calls to step aside while the matter is investigated he will undoubtedly be feeling the pressure.

That party colleague Daithí McKay - who within hours of the scandal breaking threw himself on his sword - was in possession of the Bryson evidence file for five days but did not share it with party members has raised eyebrows.

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Scepticism of the 'lone wolf' theory grows daily and the issue has now moved on to getting to the bottom of just who in Sinn Féin knew what ahead of Bryson's evidence.

The emergence of an email address suggesting a third point of contact raises even further questions as to how wide the net was cast.

Mr Ó Muilleoir has denied knowing in advance that there were backchannel communications, but he has questions to answer and with a change of chair in the Finance Committee from a popular - but it seems expendable - Sinn Féin member to Peter Robinson's former SPAD Emma Little Pengelly, his troubles maybe only just starting.