Thursday 20 October 2016

Spawell sellers legally obliged

Published 05/07/2015 | 02:30

Sir - I wish to refer to a number of articles written by Colm O'Rourke and published recently in the Sunday Independent (June 21 and June 28) regarding the sale of the Spawell complex in Dublin. These articles paint a less than accurate picture of the facts, and make inaccurate assertions against me.

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While I don't speak for Nama, I understand that the property in question was not owned by Nama. Rather, Nama was a secured lender. A statutory receiver sold the property and was legally obliged to obtain the highest price.

That was in the best interests of the debtor and the taxpayers of this country. As I have pointed out previously, there was a competitive process for the sale of this property, a property that generates substantial rental income.

Perhaps it has escaped your attention that the Irish Independent's residential property editor (Mark Keenan) pointed out in an article on June 18 that in such circumstances, the receiver would have exposed itself to litigation had it not secured the best price for the property. Any parties interested in purchasing the property should have been aware of this, and no amount of wishful thinking can alter this legal scenario.

In regard to any notion that I do not support Gaelic games, I would point out that in 2014 one third of sports capital monies (€14.9m) went to GAA projects, thus recognising the role of the GAA in Irish sport and in communities.

This percentage is in line with their share of SCP funding since 1998. In the same year the GAA also received €2.4m from the Irish Sports Council to support GAA Games Development and Participation initiatives.

I do not see it as my job to purchase facilities from Nama, or to purchase facilities bought from Nama by private investors.

Contrary to what you have claimed, the location of such facilities is immaterial in this regard, be it Dublin, Westport or anywhere else. Rather, my role in relation to facilities is to provide grants for the construction and/or redevelopment of facilities, and the SCP does not fund the purchase of property.

I stand over my record on the equitable distribution of SCP monies between counties and sports, and in targeting designated areas of disadvantage.

In my time as Minister for Sport, more than €88m has been allocated in sports capital grants, with a further €40m to follow later this year.

This is a significant amount of money during challenging economic times, and is supporting the work of sporting organisations the length and breadth of the country, including organisations playing Gaelic games.

Of all the people who should write about Receiver and Nama, I am surprised that Colm O'Rourke should get it so badly wrong - maybe sometimes, it's hard to distinguish the wood from the trees.

Michael Ring TD

Minister of State for Tourism & Sport

Dail Eireann, Dublin 2

Obligations to maximise

Sir - In recent columns by Colm O'Rourke and Eamonn Sweeney (June 21 and June 28) your columnists claim a receiver appointed by Nama should have sold the Spawell property in Templeogue to the Dublin GAA County Board for less than its market value.

This claim is effectively a request for one organisation to be given a discount on a valuable property and that taxpayers should foot the bill for the shortfall.

Your columnists are free to suggest Dublin GAA should be given a State subvention. However, they are not free to ignore the fact that Nama is obliged under the law to maximise the sales proceeds from its loan portfolio for the benefit of all taxpayers.

Nama has no authority to determine that individual organisations or interests should receive preferential treatment at the taxpayer's expense.

Any decisions regarding State funding of organisations, sporting or otherwise, is entirely a matter for the Oireachtas and for other elected bodies.

Martin Whelan

Head of Corporate Relations

National Asset Management Agency

Dublin 2

Sunday Independent

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