Monday 23 April 2018

Michael Noonan to appear before PAC to be quizzed on Project Eagle

Finance Minister Michael Noonan Picture: Tom Burke
Finance Minister Michael Noonan Picture: Tom Burke

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has said he will appear before the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to be quizzed on Project Eagle.

Committee chairman, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming, invited Mr Noonan to appear after the publication of the C&AG report that found that Nama incurred a potential loss to the taxpayer of £190m (€223m) in the sale of its Northern Ireland loan book.

TDs want to ask Mr Noonan about his knowledge of the deal what took place during the term of the last government.

In a statement this evening Mr Noonan said: "I have today decided to accept the invitation of the Committee of Public Accounts to assist the Committee in its examination of the C&AG’s Special Report on the National Asset Management Agency’s sale of Project Eagle.

"I intend to reply by letter to the Committee of Public Accounts to confirm this and to request assurances from the Committee that the proceedings of the Committee will be conducted in line with its terms of reference.

The PAC has invited him to attend on October 6, but this date - less than a week before the Budget has not yet been confirmed by Mr Noonan.

Nama has rejected the C&AG's findings about Project Eagle claiming it’s based on an incorrect assumption of the discount rate used in the sale and that the probe was carried out by C&AG staff with no market experience of loan sales.

Mr Noonan’s appearance before PAC will be highly unusual as the committee would normally request the appearance of the accounting officer of government Departments – in this case the Finance Secretary General Derek Moran.

Its understood that Mr Noonan was inclined to accept the invitation but wanted to discuss the matter with ministerial colleagues first as his appearance at the PAC could set a precedent for Cabinet members appearing there in the future.

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