Monday 23 October 2017

Nama won't block political donations by big builders

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Nama has shied away from banning property developers from making political donations ahead of the general elections.

"Our focus is on maximising repayment of debt owed to taxpayers. Once borrowers meet their repayment obligations, it is a matter for them to decide what to do with whatever discretionary income they might have," a Nama spokesman told the Sunday Independent last week.

Major property developers have traditionally bankrolled Fianna Fail candidates and election campaigns, although the controversial "Galway Tent" was eventually scrapped by Brian Cowen.

In recent years many of the developers who have now seen their loans transferred to Nama made donations to Fianna Fail candidates. Filings with the Standards in Public Office Commission show that companies owned by developers such as Treasury holdings' Johnny Ronan, Ballymore's Sean Mulryan and Gerry Gannon all donated to Fianna Fail candidates.

Some of Ireland's biggest names in business have been funding Fine Gael and Labour as it looks increasingly likely that Fianna Fail will be decimated in the upcoming election. FG is thought to have amassed an election war chest of up to €3m.

It has also emerged that Thomas Byrne, the rogue solicitor whose Walkinstown practice imploded with €40m in debts over suspect mortgage practices, had donated €6,000 to the Labour Party in 2006. The party wrote to the Law Society and Standards in Public Office Commission asking whether it should return the money. The cash was spent as both supervisory organisations kicked for touch.

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