Friday 18 October 2019

Kenny defends Nama as Wallace to revisit claims

John Downing

John Downing

THE Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) should be told about allegations of wrong-doing in the Nama sale of its Northern Ireland loan portfolio, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Mr Kenny's comments came as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin renewed his demand for a commission of investigation to be established to examine the issue, which dominated Dáil proceedings for the last fortnight.

Mr Martin said it had emerged that Finance Minister Michael Noonan knew back in March 2014 that Nama advisor Frank Cushnahan was to be paid a sum from the sale of the loan book to financiers, Pimco.

But the Taoiseach said a commission of investigation would have no jurisdiction in the Republic in relation to matters in Northern Ireland and the matter was being investigated by the North's finance committee and Law Society.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Mr Kenny said that anybody with evidence of illegality or criminality should bring it to the PSNI's attention ,but there was no evidence of any wrong-doing by Nama.

"The remit of Nama is to return a profit for the taxpayer in respect of the sales of the portfolios it has, which is very extensive," the Taoiseach said.

The exchanges come as Independent TD for Wexford Mick Wallace, who originally raised the €1.8bn sale of the 850 properties, once valued at €6.3bn, was today expected to again raise the matter in the Dáil.

Mr Wallace will have the opportunity to do so both this morning and this afternoon.

But in the Dáil, Mr Kenny insisted that Nama was already answerable for its operations.

"They are responsible to this House, to the Irish public, through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the reports of the Comptroller & Auditor General's office," he added.

The Taoiseach was also answering a question from Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald.

She said Pimco had totally contradicted the account given by Nama chairman, Frank Daly, and also suggested by the Taoiseach, that the company was asked to withdraw from the sale's process.

"They suggest that they voluntarily withdrew," Ms McDonald said.

She said Mr Noonan and Nama knew things had gone badly with the deal but they had not informed the Northern Ireland Executive nor pulled the sale.

"They were quite satisfied and happy to allow things to trundle on," she added.

The Taoiseach rounded on Ms McDonald and warned her that any allegations she made in this matter must be based on factual evidence.

"My advice to you is to give that evidence forthwith to the Police Service of Northern Ireland," the Taoiseach said.

PAC Chairman John McGuinness said he was concerned by comments by Ms McDonald.

Irish Independent

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