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Last night, on TV3′s Tonight With Vincent Browne, hosted by Dearbhail McDonald, the panel included Fintan O’Toole, of the Irish Times; barrister Ross Maguire, of New Beginning; Mary Freehill, Labour councillor at Dublin City Council; and Thomas Byrne, of Fianna Fáil.

They discussed Nama’s recent rejection of New Beginning’s €20million offer for the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre – with the group intending to hold it as a public trust – in favour of open market bids.

Following on from this discussion, they talked about how a section in the Nama act allows the Minister for Finance to direct Nama to contribute to the social and economic development of the State.

They also spoke about the recent rise in property prices and Nama’s role in this.

From their discussion…

Dearbhail McDonald: “When we look at where we are now, all roads lead back to the Bank Guarantee, all roads lead back to that period of time. Nama is a special purpose vehicle, the largest property company, development company, land company, in the world, probably. Is it time to revisit the act, it’s done its initial job of taking the bad loans from the banks and it was a reaction to, it dealt with the commercial end of the crisis but when you look at, only less than 800 borrowers, it didn’t really look after the residential, could it ever actually fulfil a social and economic purpose?”

Fintan O’Toole: “No, and…”

McDonald: “Under the terms of the act, as it was written?”

O’Toole: “The whole Nama saga really, you know, is highly dubious it seems to me. What did we do? I mean, just stand back from it. It was transferring assets from one set of State-owned agencies to another set of State-owned agencies, at enormous cost. They set aside €2billion in fees, in order to do this…”

McDonald: “Over the lifetime…”

O’Toole: “Over the lifetime of Nama. Now people get very upset about Irish Water, for example, and the amount of money that was spent on the consultants. I mean it’s a tiny, tiny, tiny, excuse the awful pun, drop in the ocean, compared to…”

McDonald: “Now, Nama would since come out and say ‘look, those were initial projections, they have now come in at significantly less’. But when you perhaps look at that, compared to the operation, Ross, of…”

O’Toole: “The fact is they were willing, they were willing to spend that, you know. So, yes, they may come in at less but they set it aside. Whether they set it aside to make sure that the professional classes were going to be looked after first… and what was achieved by all of this? I mean we have banks, we have banks which have debt recovery agencies, you know. Of course some of them might have needed to boosted in the wake of the crash but this whole thing – what did it do?It made the State into a giant debt collection agency and it’s having hugely corrosive effects. We’re seeing them already. Nobody has asked the question, for example, is it in the interests of the citizens of Ireland, long-term, for property prices to rise. The reason property prices are rising is because we’ve got this massive investment in Nama and Nama has to be seen to be a political success…”

McDonald: “Is that the overriding prerogative…”

O’Toole: “But is it actually good for social development? Is it actually good for economic development? Is it good that commercial rents have risen to a point again, where they…”

Thomas Byrne: “Nama is not the cause of that. I mean people who opposed Nama at the start, said that ‘oh property prices will never go up’ and therefore, ‘your calculations and projections are wrong’. Now, you’re attributing to Nama, it seems to me, the increase in property prices. There are other reasons for it.”

O’Toole: “No, hold on, what I am saying is that the political imperative was then built into the system whereby we all acquired a sort of vested interest in property prices continuing to rise. A really interesting example was the promise to end the practice of upward-only rent reviews, which was crucial to small businesses, right? That was abandoned. Why? Because it didn’t suit Nama because Nama had huge interests in rent rolls and all the rest of it.”

Watch back in full here

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Especially the morning.

Scenes INSIDE the Electric Picnic camp site in Stradbally, Co Laois this afternoon.

God bless them all.

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)



The officers’ mess.

Elegant mud coloured carpet in the area reserved for acts, press, and the suitably laminated this afternoon.

Thanks Brian S


A protestor at the Our Bodies; Our Right Rally to Repeal the 8th in Dublin last Saturday

Because they are in direct touch with the electorate Irish politicians know this and that is why they repeatedly say there is no appetite for another referendum. Politicians are understandably reluctant to spend even more time and energy on constitutional proposals that have no real prospect of being passed or lawmaking that would do little to alter the plight of those in crisis pregnancies in the absence of constitutional change. Many might wish it otherwise but that is the political reality.”

Noel Whelan in today’s Irish Times.

Referendum so.

Abortion amendment didn’t happen by accident (Noel Whelan, Irish Times)

Previously: There’s No Appetite For A Further Referendum

Meanwhile At The Spire


Hardy Electric Picnic ‘revellers’ at Custom House Quay, Dublin this afternoon.

Weather may be ‘iffy’ throughout the weekend, forecasters warn and adds Karl: ‘Doc Marten’s won’t cut it in a mud bath’.

From top: Colleen O’Neill and Sophie Meier; the bus and inappropriately shod Sara Mahood, Niamh McCabe and Rebecca Clancy.

(Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland)


The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Saggart, Co Dublin this afternoon.

He sure was phat.

Laura writes:

“The gold plated coffin carrying the remains of  Andy Connors, known in the press as Fat Andy. Mr Connors was shot at his family home around the corner from the Church on August 20. The coffin reportedly cost €28,000 and was imported from England.”

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)

boi_banner_680x192_v4Bank of Ireland ad

From the *cough* Irish Times:

“…why, after the worst property bust in history, haven’t I seen any public-interest ads on telly warning people of the risks of buying a home, and especially the risks of borrowing money to do so?”

“Maybe the powers-that-be assume the risks are obvious. For years it’s been impossible to switch on talk radio without hearing miserable unfortunates say they had no notion their lender was unregulated / didn’t know they’d still owe money even after they relinquished their over-mortgaged house / are gobsmacked their lender could veto a deal to sell their property at a loss.”

“…How about a public-interest ad showing Mum and Dad a few years on, when they split up and learn they are both, individually, responsible for the entire mortgage, even if one of them is unemployed and the other has moved out? Oh, and the lender won’t let one of them buy out the other.”


Why we need a public-interest property ad campaign (Mary Feely, Wednesday’s Irish Times)

Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland