The political week in 5 points
On Thursday the Irish News published allegations that Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, Chair of the Stormont NAMA inquiry, alongside another party member had “coached” loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson before he gave evidence to the inquiry last year. The allegations followed leaked Twitter messages between the individuals. Deputy First Minister and Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness strongly denied having any knowledge about the exchange; Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt MLA described the allegations as “political dynamite”.
Hours later Daithí McKay resigned as MLA for North Antrim, stating his contact with a witness of the inquiry was “inappropriate, ill-advised and wrong”. He continued; “My intention was not, as alleged, to coach the witness in question with regard to the substance of his testimony, but rather ensure that the inquiry had full access to the truth with regard to all the issues relating to the Nama scandal.” On Friday Democratic Unionist Party Chairman Maurice Morrow MLA submitted a complaint about Mr McKay to the Assembly Standards Commissioner.
On Sunday, the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called on party members to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader, throwing his support by Owen Smith in the leadership contest. Writing in the Observer, Mr Khan claimed Mr Corbyn has been disastrous and must share a large part of the blame for the vote to leave the European Union. This week the party will send out ballot papers to more than half a million members who are eligible to vote in the leadership contest. According to the Observer, Mr Corbyn remains the clear favourite to win.
Also this week, the photo of an injured and dazed five-year-old Syrian boy, named Omran Daqneesh, rescued from a destroyed building in Aleppo caused outrage throughout the world. The image of Omran’s compares with another photograph that has come to symbolise the conflict and accompanying refugee crisis: that of three-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach. Despite the outrage, ultimately it will be up to the international political community to find a solution to a conflict seemingly without end.
France and Germany this week made moves to clamp down on women wearing bukinis and burkas respectively. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat Party (CDU) on Friday announced proposals which could ban women wearing burkas or full-face Islamic veils at schools and universities. According to Thomas de Maiziere, German Interior Minister, “Showing your face is essential for our communication, co-existence and social cohesion.” In France, Nice became the latest French resort to ban the burkini just weeks after last month’s Bastille Day massacre.