Wednesday 14 November 2018

Martin: Enda must launch Nama inquiry

Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin: 'To say that there’s nothing to inquire into here, that’s not tenable and that’s not acceptable. It was
never acceptable'
Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin: 'To say that there’s nothing to inquire into here, that’s not tenable and that’s not acceptable. It was never acceptable'
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is now under unprecedented pressure to establish a formal inquiry into Nama's sale of its Northern Ireland loan book, with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin describing the Government's refusal to act on the matter as "not tenable".

"The Government's position, and the position of the last government, is not tenable in my view. To say that there's nothing to inquire into here, that's not tenable and that's not acceptable. It was never acceptable," Mr Martin told the Sunday Independent.

The Fianna Fail leader - whose support the Taoiseach and Fine Gael are dependent upon to stay in power - was speaking following the arrest last week of two men in Co Down by officers from the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA).

The NCA detained the two men last Tuesday as part of its ongoing probe into Project Eagle, a deal which saw US private equity giant Cerberus snap up Nama's Northern loan book for €1.6bn. Both individuals were questioned and bailed the following day.

While Mr Martin cautioned that any inquiry established by the Government would have to be conducted in a manner that didn't jeopardise criminal investigations in the North or elsewhere, his intervention will serve to heap pressure on the Taoiseach to act decisively on the matter.

Any move to initiate an inquiry on this side of the Border would invariably be seen as yet another indication of the shift in the balance of power within Dail Eireann from the Government to the Opposition benches. It would also represent a dramatic volte-face for the Taoiseach personally.

Only last Tuesday, Mr Kenny flatly rejected a demand from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to establish a commission of investigation into Project Eagle, saying: "No, I will not. There has not been any allegation of wrongdoing against Nama."

Mr Kenny added that while he assumed the two people who had been arrested in the North had "been arrested for good reason", Nama had been "completely in compliance with the law and the conditions it was set up under".

Referring to the examination of the Project Eagle deal, which had taken place in Dublin, he said: "The [Finance] Minister has made a full statement already and there has been quite a deal of discussion at the various Oireachtas committees on the question on Nama. Nama personnel at the highest level have responded and given much time on different occasions to discuss these matters."

Asked for his view in relation to the Taoiseach's position, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: "As far as I'm concerned it can't be left as it is, and I don't buy the argument that no inquiry should take place on this side of the Border. The Dublin government has to be far more proactive on this issue."

The circumstances surrounding Cerberus's acquisition of Nama's Northern Ireland portfolio remain the subject of investigation by both the UK's National Crime Agency and the US Securities and Exchange Commission as well as a parliamentary inquiry in Northern Ireland.

All parties involved in the 2014 deal deny any wrongdoing. Cerberus won the auction by offering Stg£1.241bn for loans linked to the Northern Ireland properties. The reserve price was Stg£1.24bn.

Sunday Independent

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