18 Sinn Féin members resign from party in North Antrim

Activists protest against treatment of former Assembly member Daithí McKay

Daithí McKay: the former North Antrim MLA was forced to resign

Daithí McKay: the former North Antrim MLA was forced to resign

 

Sinn Féin has expressed disappointment after 18 party activists resigned from the party in what they said was the unfair treatment of former Assembly member Daithí McKay.

The former North Antrim MLA was forced to resign over allegations that he helped “coach” loyalist blogger and flags protester Jamie Bryson to try to damage former DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson.

Sinn Féin also suspended Mr McKay, who was accused of colluding with Mr Bryson. It is alleged that last September, when he was chairman of the Assembly finance committee, Mr McKay “coached” and facilitated Mr Bryson to claim Mr Robinson was to financially gain from the £1.2 billion sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland property portfolio to US investment company Cerberus. Mr Robinson said this claim was “scurrilous and unfounded”.

Now 18 Sinn Féin members in North Antrim have quit the party in protest at the manner in which Mr McKay was compelled to resign as an Assembly member. They also protested against the impending co-option of his successor to the Assembly, Philip McGuigan.

The Sinn Féin members said it was “inconceivable” that they would remain in the party after the way Mr McKay was treated. They also deplored what they called the “anointing” of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough councillor Mr McGuigan as his successor.

Among those who left the party are Monica Digney, a former councillor who was the first Sinn Féin member elected to Ballymena Council, and Paul Maguire, a member of Mid and East Antrim council. Mr Maguire said he would continue to sit as an independent and added that other resignations may follow.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said the party was disappointed at the resignations. “Daithí McKay acknowledged that his contact with loyalist Jamie Bryson was inappropriate and wrong,” he said.

“Sinn Féin’s Cuige Uladh consulted with party activists in the North Antrim area and, following approval by the party’s ardchomhairle, Philip McGuigan was co-opted as an MLA for the constituency,” added the spokesman.

“Sinn Féin will continue to provide first-class representation for the people of North Antrim,” he said.