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Now Mr Kenny should think before speaking

TWO bouts of careless talk may be regarded as an accident; three smacks of, well, carelessness. Especially if the culprit is the Taoiseach himself. Having rebuked ministers Phil Hogan and Leo Varadkar for allegedly speaking out of turn, Mr Kenny appears to have done the same thing.

In an impromptu session with journalists in Cork on Monday, Mr Kenny raised serious concerns about some of the operations of NAMA. Except that it appears they were not really serious concerns at all. The official line yesterday was that the Taoiseach sees no need for an investigation and that he himself never claimed to have any evidence of unacceptable practices at NAMA.

Unsatisfactory. Mr Kenny's remarks turned the complaints of a Fianna Fail senator into a story, quite an achievement for a Fine Gael Taoiseach. Kerry senator Mark Daly must at least be a happy man.

The reason it matters is that NAMA is controversial and surrounded by suspiciously high legal protections. The furore will add to the controversy and suspicion. If it was all about nothing, that is a bad day's work. There are enough genuine concerns over NAMA without inventing more.

The claim was that some developers were buying back properties which has come under NAMA control for less than the agency paid. It is possible that this could happen through "frontmen," so that NAMA would not know a developer was behind the bid. But it is unlikely that NAMA would knowingly do such selling.

NAMA chairman Frank Daly went a long way towards killing the controversy with a spirited defence of NAMA tactics. He also gave Mr Kenny a dry path out of the bog into which he had stepped, saying that he felt the Taoiseach was telling them to stay on top of things. Mr Kenny should be grateful, although we are not sure that he will be.