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Back in business: Johnny Ronan's exit from Nama frees him up to return to property development

Back in business: Johnny Ronan's exit from Nama frees him up to return to property development

Willie O'Dea

Willie O'Dea

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Back in business: Johnny Ronan's exit from Nama frees him up to return to property development

Johnny Ronan's exit from Nama made headlines - and it's easy to see why. The flamboyant property developer was one of the biggest noises amid the cacophonous hustle and hype of the Celtic Tiger. His jet-setting lifestyle ensured he was a prominent fixture in the gossip columns and business pages.

Treasury Holdings, which Ronan founded and ran with Richard Barrett, built some of the capital's best-known buildings, including the Convention Centre, the Central Park business park, and Connaught House. Its Treasury Building on Grand Canal Street houses the NTMA and, ironically, Nama.

Ronan's financial woes were as high-profile as his successes. Treasury Holdings ultimately went into liquidation with debts of over €1bn to Nama alone. Protracted legal battles followed.

Last week, the story had a happy ending from Ronan's perspective. At 2.25pm on Tuesday - a jubilant press statement declared - he completed a €300m deal that saw him clear his liabilities and exit Nama, with the backing of UK and US investors. Ronan can now make a "full and committed return to building high quality developments in Ireland and abroad". Several other developers are also expected to leave Nama shortly.

For the average punter, however, Ronan's departure was not the most eye-catching Nama story of recent days. That accolade goes to Michael Noonan's revelation that the number of Nama staff earning in excess of €100,000 has more than doubled over the past five years despite the Government's pledge to wind the agency down and reduce payroll costs. In 2010, 51 Nama employees took home over €100,000. By late 2014, the figure was 112.

Before the crash, we had a plethora of high-flying property developers. Now we have a plethora of high-flying property developers and a National Asset Management Agency staffed by highly-paid state employees. Everyone's a winner.

PS

Willie O'Dea has developed a newfound love of silence. The garrulous Fianna Fáil  stalwart has pleaded with party colleagues who are dissatisfied with Micheál Martin's leadership to "stay off" the airwaves. "We have to represent ourselves as a united and cohesive unit," he declared.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Joan Burton has complained about the prominence accorded to anti-water-charge activists on TV and radio, accusing RTÉ of allowing protesters to "dominate" its coverage. In response, however, programme-makers have testified to the difficulty of finding government spokespeople who are prepared to defend water charges.

Politicians have an instinctive and self-defeating preference for spinning a story rather than telling it.

They consistently underestimate the public's ability to read between the lines. And, in truth, it's often their silences rather than their words that speak loudest.

Indo Review