McKay is 'thrown to the wolves' as Sinn Féin seeks to protect the party
Published 19/08/2016 | 02:30
Many things make Sinn Féin different from other parties but the lack of rancour is probably the main one. Families fight, friends fight and political parties definitely fight - but not Sinn Féin.
It has a seemingly infallible leadership and an internal discipline that defines omerta.
So when Martin McGuinness came out yesterday to say MLA Daithí McKay should "seriously consider his position", it was inevitable that the former chair of the Northern Executive's finance committee would quit.
Sinn Féin swung into damage limitation, disowning McKay and denying all knowledge of the alleged dirty tricks that led to claims about ex-DUP leader Peter Robinson sharing in a £7m 'kickback' being made public under privilege.
Mr McKay, it was said, had engaged in a "solo run" when he discussed the sale of the Nama's 'Project Eagle' portfolio with Jamie Bryson.
The official party line was that Mr McKay took it on himself to "coach" the loyalist blogger in how best to land the bombshell allegations about the North's then First Minister.
In most other parties, the idea that a rogue politician could make such a decision would be plausible - but in Sinn Féin it seems far-fetched.
TDs and MLAs don't openly criticise the leaders or question their tactics. There is a reason that you'll never read about internal debates at Sinn Féin meetings in Leinster House.
Either there are no debates or TDs are too afraid to talk to journalists about them in case anybody in the leadership spots them.
And so it's hard to believe that Mr McKay decided himself to undermine Mr Robinson at a time when Sinn Féin and the DUP were heading up a power-sharing arrangement - unless he knew or thought that his actions would please those who rank above him.
For his part, Mr Bryson tweeted that it was "disgraceful" for Sinn Féin to throw the now former MLA "to the wolves".
"This went to the very top. They knew," he said.
If 'they' did know, this story will have extraordinary consequences - but don't expect anyone in Sinn Féin to act as a whistleblower.