Tuesday 21 November 2017

TDs criticise Project Eagle report delay

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A delay in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on Nama’s controversial Project Eagle report due to staffing issues has been branded as “unacceptable” by TDs.

The PAC originally planned to publish its report on the sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland loan book before Christmas.

However, TDs were by told chairman Seán Fleming that there has been a further delay after two staff members were moved to the Oireachtas committee examining the future of water charges.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said it’s “unacceptable that staff are taken away at a crucial point in relation to the preparation of a report on Project Eagle.”

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of treating the committee as “patsies”, claiming that there was “political messing” happening on the issue.

She claimed that the Government was using the delay in the PAC report as a reason for “stalling the ball” on establishing a promised Commission of Investigation into Project Eagle.

“If the Taoiseach or anybody else is using this as a pretext to delay a commitment that they entered into, I personally am not prepared to be used in that way,” Ms McDonald said.

She said that the decision to move the staff to another committee should be challenged.

Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan expressed frustration that the committee weren’t notified of the staffing issue.

But she added: “I think it's outrageous to suggest the Taoiseach or the Government would have had anything to do with the staffing.”

“That’s a far too big a leap. I wanted to clarify that. We can’t suggest something like that,” she added.

TDs are examining Project Eagle, after the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) found that a probable loss of £190m (€223m) was incurred in the sale.

Nama has rejected this finding.

The secretariat of the PAC are currently compiling a preliminary document based on more than two months of hearings and considerable correspondence in relation to the committee’s probe into Project Eagle.

That document is due to be circulated to TDs next week to allow them to compile a draft report.

Mr Fleming said he would write to the Ceann Comhairle about the staffing issue.

He said: “It is very disappointing that at the final furlong they [the staff] were pulled back.

“We would have been at the finishing line now but we are still nearly there,” he added.

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