THERE is speculation that an investigation may be set up in the Republic to probe the Nama ‘fire sale’ of bad debt property.
The Irish Government may launch the inquiry following the publication of a report later this week into the sale which is alleged to have found “irregularities”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described allegations of bags of cash being paid to a former adviser to the National Asset Management Agency as incredible and extraordinary.
Mr Kenny said he was not opposed to an inquiry into the handling of Project Eagle, the biggest property deal in Northern Ireland when US investment giant Cerberus paid NAMA £1.2bn for a loan portfolio in 2014.
The sale was first dogged by controversy after £7m linked to it was found in an Isle of Man bank account.
BBC Spotlight has reported on the sale using a series of taped conversations.
Mr Kenny said he had watched the programme and “I found it quite incredible”.
“Nothing surprises me at the kind of activities that take place in politics, in that sense I find it extraordinary to hear the audio reports of engagements and meetings between certain personnel.”
The conversations to property developer John Miskelly handing over £40,000 in cash to one time Nama advisory Frank Cushnahan.
Project Eagle has been examined on several occasions at the Public Accounts Committee in Dublin.
The Comptroller and Auditor General ran its own audit of the same. Its report, which is due to be examined by Cabinet ministers this week, is expected to find that taxpayers lost out on hundreds of millions of euro.
Mr Kenny told Kfm radio: “If I find or our colleagues in Government find that this is a case that has to be examined then I won’t be opposed to that.
“If there are questions arising from the Public Accounts Committee engagement with NAMA, and they are due before them shortly, I’m not averse to taking action, but I need to know what it is I’m taking action on.”
NAMA is due to appear before the Public Accounts Committee on 22 September and its executives are also to be questioned at the Oireachtas Finance Committee, chaired by John McGuinness, a former PAC chairman.
Investigations have been launched into Project Eagle by the UK’s National Crime Agency, the US Department of Justice’s Securities and Exchange Commission as well as a parliamentary inquiry in Stormont.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has joined calls from Opposition politicians for an inquiry.
Mr Martin said there is a need for a Commission of Inquiry into Project Eagle and the inquiry should be as wide-ranging as possible, but that its possible limitations should be acknowledged.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the Cork TD said “we have to know the limitations to such an inquiry but nonetheless some useful work could be done by it that would not impede or undermine” other investigations.
He said that there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed, such as why the entire property portfolio in Northern Ireland was sold in one bundle.
Mr Martin also asked was there a political move to accelerate the winding up of NAMA during the last government’s term.
He previously asked the Taoiseach to get legal parameters into a possible inquiry into Project Eagle, he said.
Assembly members return to Stormont today following the summer recess, with the controversy about Nama at the top of the agenda.
A senior member of the DUP has raised doubts about the concept of an all-island inquiry into the purchase of NAMA’s Northern Ireland property portfolio.
Gavin Robinson, the DUP MP for East Belfast, did o’t back the idea this morning.
Speaking to journalists at Stormont he said “the Republic of Ireland will have their inquiries and Dáil Éireann will pursue what it has to pursue and here in the United Kingdom the National Crime Agency is the appropriate body to take matters forward.”
He also expressed support for the investigation that the UK’s National Crime Agency has been engaged in for several months. He said “it should go wherever the evidence leads it and the consequences will follow.”
Mr Robinson raised doubts about the investigation carried out by a Stormont Committee into the NAMA controversy before the Assembly elections in May.
Last month the former chairman of that committee, Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay, resigned from the Assembly after it emerged he had inappropriate contact with a witness, Jamie Bryson, before he gave evidence to a hearing.
Mr Robinson said the work of that committee “is now poisoned fruit from a poisoned tree when you have such a clear breach of what should be an independent inquiry.”
He expressed confidence in the committee, under its new chairperson, DUP party colleague Emma Pengally-Lyttle and its future work.