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15 August 2016

Daithi McKay resignation over Jamie Bryson coaching claims: Sharp-suited young men think they're smarter than they really are

Daithi McKay has resigned as a Sinn Fein MLA. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

My initial reaction to the allegation that loyalist Jamie Bryson had been coached by Sinn Fein on how best to damage Peter Robinson was to snort derisively.

"For heaven's sake," I said to the friend who rang me about it, "that couldn't be possible. Both Sinn Fein and Jamie Bryson are too fly to do that. They'd know they'd get found out."

But then I remembered that young men have a tendency to be too clever by half, and politicians are particularly prone to it.

During the Conservative leadership election, someone told me of a cunning plan by supporters of A to vote for B in order to do down C.

I emitted a cry of pain.

"Tell them to stop now," I said, "and vote for the person they want. The reason the Labour Party is facing annihilation is because smart asses put Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper because they were certain he wouldn't stand a chance of being elected."

Inspired by the motto "My enemy's enemy is my friend", Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay, who is 34, and Jamie Bryson, who is 25, must have thought they were being clever in joining forces to do down Mr Robinson.

Had they watched too many episodes of series like The West Wing or The Thick of It in which sharp-suited young men make and break politicians' careers?

Did they pay no attention to the shoals of emails from everyone from Hillary Clinton down that are leaked with great regularity?

I'd love to have seen Martin McGuinness's face when his attention was drawn to the drama unfolding in the Irish News and on The Nolan Show.

I bet he looked more like a wet hen than the elder statesman, who then described the news as "profoundly disturbing," and in the finest comic moment of the whole business, added: "If the allegations of inappropriate contact prove to be true, then Daithi McKay needs to seriously consider his position as an MLA."

It would have been fun to be with a group placing bets on how long Mr McKay would spend pondering that decision.

Mr Bryson then added to the tragicomedy by tweeting: "Disgraceful SF throwing McKay to the wolves. This went to the very top. They knew." I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I seriously doubt that in a party so centralised and controlled that it resembles Kim Jong-un's Korean People's Army, their now former MLA would have embarked on such a dangerous solo run.

The Sinn Fein leadership also wear sharp suits and have got away with so much they think they're cleverer than they are.

They will deny everything, but I won't be the only one snorting derisively.

Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards