‘This Is How We Do Business In Ireland’

at

Harcourt St

Harcourt Street Garda HQ in Dublin and Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace speaking in the Dáil this afternoon

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace raised questions about Nama selling the Harcourt Street Garda Station, Dublin 2.

Mick Wallace: “What does the Taoiseach think of the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, complaining to the Standards in Public Office Commission, SIPO, in March 2016 about Frank Cushnahan, given that it knew in March 2014 that this gentleman was in line for a backhander of £5 million?”

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl: “Deputy, please, do not make allegations against somebody outside the House. It is not in order.”

Wallace: “Given that Ronnie Hanna was arrested in May 2016, can we expect NAMA to complain about him in May 2018? Aside from Frank Cushnahan, the arrest of Ronnie Hanna has brought Project Eagle back home to Dublin, yet the Government wants to bury its head in the sand.”

It is more than a year since I first gave the Garda the name of an individual who paid €15,000 in a bag in order to get favourable treatment from NAMA as well as the name of the NAMA employee who was taking the money. There was denial all around as usual. However, the man receiving the money has since been arrested on a different charge. Meanwhile, the guy who paid the bribe is doing well for himself; there is not a bother on him. Such is business in Ireland.”

The investment fund, Hibernia REIT, is taking a court action to have An Garda Síochána removed from Harcourt Street station. These buildings were in NAMA and they are probably the most important buildings in the country for the Garda. The command and control centre for the whole of Ireland is based there. Moving and scattering this technical centre to the four winds will undermine the workings of the Garda.”

Will the Taoiseach explain why NAMA was allowed to sell this site to a vulture fund rather than keep it in State ownership? Hibernia REIT, which now owns the site, was set up by a guy who was a big player in NAMA where he was a portfolio manager for three years.”

When he joined the agency, he moved his 30% shareholding in his father’s company to an offshore trust. Did he declare that to NAMA? The same company then benefitted from some lucrative work from the agency. He left NAMA in December 2012 and used his insider knowledge regarding the agency’s assets to line up investment funds that would provide the finance for the new company, Hibernia REIT, which he manages.”

“It would not require forensic examination to discover that Hibernia REIT did remarkably well in purchasing former NAMA assets, many of which this gentleman was involved with, but then that is how we do business in Ireland.”

“Does the Taoiseach not think that the public interest would be best served if we examined the complete workings of NAMA? At this stage the majority of people in Ireland believe NAMA is rotten to the core.”

Enda Kenny: “It is not the first time Deputy Wallace has raised a matter in respect of NAMA, which is a matter of public interest. As I said before on quite a number of occasions, the advice given to me by the authorities is that this loan portfolio was sold following an open process to the highest bidder.”

“On the questions of allegations against certain individuals in Northern Ireland, NAMA paid no moneys to any party on this loan sale against whom allegations of wrongdoing are now being made and, as I said before, if somebody has evidence, they should bring that to the authorities.”

“I am also aware that two individuals that the Deputy mentioned were held for questioning in respect of the UK National Crime Agency, NCA, investigation into the Northern Ireland assets owned by NAMA and I am advised that the NCA has confirmed to NAMA that no aspect of the agency’s activities are under investigation.”

“I welcomed this previously, as did the Minister for Finance. These allegations are serious and, clearly, they have to be, and are being, investigated in that jurisdiction. Taking into account the investigations that are under way, the Minister for Finance has a view that no specific line of inquiry here can stand up and be usefully pursued by a commission of investigation. Many allegations have been made.”

The appropriate investigations are already taking place in the appropriate jurisdictions and it would be unwise to launch a very costly commission of investigation on claims that are currently under investigation by the authorities.”

“The Deputy mentioned before the issue that he raised. These are specific allegations of wrongdoing. If there are ones that are not being investigated, obviously they should be brought to the attention of the Garda and the authorities. If this is an issue that is appropriate to a commission of investigation, we need more details on what the Deputy has there and in the absence of such specific allegations, it is right and proper that the appropriate authorities should have the time and space required to compete their investigations.”

The Deputy has raised the issue of the Garda station in Harcourt Street. I am aware of the situation there in so far as their being asked to move out is concerned. I think there is an objection lodged to that. Obviously, investigations, as I said, are going on in the Northern Ireland jurisdiction as well.”

“The Comptroller and Auditor General is required, under section 226 of the NAMA Act, to produce a report every three years – that office is a completely independent body – assessing the extent to which NAMA has made progress towards achieving its overall objective.”

“NAMA and the Comptroller and Auditor General appeared before the Committee of Public Accounts on 9 July last year. At that appearance the Comptroller and Auditor General indicated that his next section 226 report would look in detail at a sample of NAMA disposals and a sample of properties held by it for investment and, furthermore, that a specific review of Project Eagle, under section 9 of the Comptroller and Auditor General Act, would be undertaken. That is under way. I do not know when it will be published but I understand quite a good deal of work has been done on it.”

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl : “Thank you, Taoiseach.”

Kenny: “The Comptroller and Auditor General has indicated that he intends to issue a report, under section 11 of the Comptroller and Auditor General Act, following this review of Project Eagle, and that is consistent with his powers to investigate, scrutinise and report independently on any aspect of NAMA’s work which may arise through its annual audits or special reports about any aspect of NAMA’s work.”

I assume if Deputy Wallace is raising a new issue on the basis of a new allegation, I am sure he will transmit that to the Garda or the authorities as well.”

Ó Fearghaíl: “Before I bring in Deputy Wallace, I wish to say that he has raised, as the Taoiseach acknowledged, a matter of major public importance, but having regard to the Standing Orders of the House, I ask him please, notwithstanding the fact he has named individuals today and in the past, not to name individuals so as to be in compliance with Standing Orders, and not to refer to an individual in such a way as to make him or her identifiable“.

Wallace:That is probably the worst answer the Taoiseach has ever given me in the House in relation to NAMA. He did not answer any of the questions I asked him. I never mentioned the words “Project Eagle”. I am tired talking about that in here.

“On that, the Taoiseach has made the point that there is no investigation into the workings of NAMA, even around that or anything else. It is blatantly obvious that the one jurisdiction where some investigation of a serious nature should be going on is the one that does not have one, and that is us. We do not want to know, or the Taoiseach does not want to know. I can understand why he does not want to know. As a matter of interest, how come no one can ever answer the question as to why NAMA never reported the fact this individual was in line for a €5 million backhander? Why, under section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act, did it not report it? Why did the Minister for Finance not report it?

Ó Fearghaíl: “Thank you, Deputy.”

Wallace: “Will the Taoiseach answer my question? Why did NAMA sell Harcourt Street station to a vulture fund rather than keep it in State ownership? Has it anything to do with the fact that people, who were insiders, were going to benefit from it?

Ó Fearghaíl: “Thank you, Deputy.”

Wallace: “It is just ridiculous. It is outrageous to say that no allegations have been made against NAMA in Dublin. There are bucketfuls of them. Somebody is eventually going to have to deal with it. Why will the Taoiseach not deal with it before he is gone? Otherwise it will be on his legacy that he did not want…”

Ó Fearghaíl: “Thank you, Deputy. Your time is up.”

Wallace: “…accountability or transparency around this State body.”

Kenny: “I do not accept Deputy Wallace’s assertion at all that there are people in government who do not want to know. He made a allegation. He asked me why Harcourt Street station was sold to a vulture fund. I will find out the answer for him. He made other allegations that are of a serious nature. I am quite sure he will bring them to the authorities.”

Wallace: “The Garda knows about them.”

Kenny: “I am sure that the Deputy also accepts that the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office is completely independent and it is looking at Project Eagle…”

Talk over each other

Kenny: “…and if there is any issue in respect of an allegation being made about an individual or an entity, the Comptroller and Auditor General is perfectly entitled to…”

Wallace: “No.”

Kenny: “Yes, he is. He is perfectly entitled to investigate that completely independently. There are a lot of rumours going around and a lot of speculation and allegations. If the Deputy has evidence, I would be the first to say to him that this will be treated seriously, as it has been in a number of other areas where commissions have been involved.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Update:

“Claims made by Deputy Wallace about Hibernia REIT are ill-informed, inaccurate and without foundation.

Hibernia REIT did not purchase Harcourt Square from NAMA, as asserted by Deputy Wallace. Harcourt Square was sold by NAMA to Starwood Capital in 2013, as part of a large portfolio of assets called Project Aspen. Hibernia acquired the property from Starwood Capital in February 2015.

Hibernia REIT is an Irish listed and regulated public company that is investing in Ireland for the long term.

It is disappointing that Deputy Wallace has used the protection of Dail privilege to make a range of untrue allegations.”

Statement from Hibernie REIT tonight.

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54 thoughts on “‘This Is How We Do Business In Ireland’

    1. Tish Mahorey

      He’ll be rewarded with various positions of boards of directors and speaking tours of Business associations and American Universities.

      That’s how you pay them these days.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      I see. He claimed his dinner as a tax expense so everything about NAMA is above board.

    2. martco

      Rob_G/Andy
      how in the name of uck can ye in all conscience defend/deflect from what is as plain as your face in front of you?
      I’m no fan of Wallace but I think if the virgin mary herself wheeled in and exposed this NAMA/bladiedeafie/inda white collar crime fest you’d have something to say about how she picks her nose or something
      I really really don’t get your position, like how are ye not pissed off? NAMA’s great like? ffs

    3. Tish Mahorey

      Rob-G, why do you always defend the state no matter what? You’re either part of the problem or you’re very naive.

      1. Kieran NYC

        Pointing out Mick’s hypocrisy isn’t the same as defending NAMA. You’re as blinkered as you accuse him of being.

        1. martco

          as far as I’m concerned anyways it was a simpleton smartarse deflection quip from Rob_G and it deserves to be called out
          I know you know that its a very low percentage sitting in that talkshop in Kildare Street is pure as the driven snow….getting to it the issue Wallace mired himself in is on the mild side in comparison to some….really whatever about whatever he did in his past doesn’t alter the story here a whit
          repeat no fan but at least he seems to be trying and I have no problem if his dirt digging puts some of these used car salesmen in boiling hot water

          1. Rob_G

            Mick Wallace is happy to sling mud (under Dáil priviliege) while his own record, both outside the Dáil and in, has had more actual corruption than contained in any of his numerous allegations.

            If he has evidence of wrongdoing, he should bring it to the attention of the Gardaí/PSNI as appropriate, rather than using it for political grandstanding.

          2. Joe Cavanagh

            Rob,

            If everyone brushed off a topic of debate because the person making the argument did something else, do you not think that any tense argument would just resort to discussing peoples’ character and not the point of the argument? No progress would ever be made. It derails any debate and can be used to deliberately derail a debate by somebody who doesn’t want to discuss the topic.

            A person’s own, unrelated actions, are certainly worth discussing but it’s dangerous not to treat them as separate discussions, overlapping when it’s absolutely pertinent. I mean, the term ‘ad hominem’ has centuries of reading material if you want to see why anybody seriously involved in discussions advises this.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            “If he has evidence of wrongdoing, he should bring it to the attention of the Gardaí/PSNI”

            Or ‘He should know his place and keep his mouth shut.’ Fair play to Mick for doing the job of an investigative journalist and keeping citizens informed about what’s going on with *our* money. Why aren’t actual investigative journalists doing this?

          4. Rob_G

            “Or ‘He should know his place and keep his mouth shut.’ ”

            no; he should bring the evidence of any wrongdoing to the people who actually have the authority to act on it. But of course, playing to the gallery will help him to get reelected, which is probably the point of the exercise.

            I will be intruiged to see if Mick ever makes any of these pronouncements outside of the the protection of Dáil privilege; I very much doubt it.

          5. Rob_G

            “Why aren’t actual investigative journalists doing this?”

            – journalists require evidence before making accusations at people; otherwise they would be sued for libel. Mick Wallace speaking in the Dáil is under no such constraints.

          6. MoyestWithExcitement

            “But of course, playing to the gallery will help him to get reelected”

            You mean, keeping Irish citizens informed about the dodgy dealings happening with *our* money when the media and FG want him to kerp quiet about it? Yes, it probably will.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            “journalists require evidence”

            How do you knlw he doesn’t have evidence?

          8. Rob_G

            Perhaps he does; I would be more inclined to believe him if he were to make the allegations outside of the protection of Dáil privilege.

          9. MoyestWithExcitement

            Ok so. I’ll watch this play out. You continue making irrelevant attacks on his character as you defend the establishment yet again.

    4. john gallaher

      what you wont read in the papers….why ?

      “Hibernia REIT plc (“Hibernia”) announces that it has exchanged contracts to acquire Dundrum View,
      an 80 unit apartment complex in Dundrum, South Dublin, for €28.05m in an off-market transaction”

      “..and members of his family hold a beneficial interest of 3.1% in the property..”

      http://www.hiberniareit.com/~/media/Files/H/Hibernia-Reit/press-release/Copy%20of%20Dundrum%20View%20RNS%20vFinal.pdf

      out the billions off RE for sale in Irl,they caught a flip from a director with a interest in it!

      “(and included in this figure is €23k of costs relating to services provided by Kirsty Foynes, the wife of Kevin Nowlan. These services related to the preparation for sale, by the Receiver, of apartments
      held in the non-core Dorville portfolio). ”

      REIT’s trade on a discount or premium based on management,optically this nickel and dime related party BS displays poor judgement.

      http://www.hiberniareit.com/~/media/Files/H/Hibernia-Reit/reports-and-presentations/hibernia-reit-plc-annual-report-31-march-2016.pdf

      pg124

  1. Andy

    Mick making noise to move attention away from his SIPO expenses paid to his restaurant, his son & a possible family friend?

    Interesting comment though about the Hibernian REIT founder.

    Most of the rest is rubbish – the OPW/Garda leases on Harcourt street are expiring, time for them to move somewhere else. Blame the OPW for not getting their ducks in a row – it’s not like they had a decade to do so…

  2. nellyb

    “It seems that a failure to prosecute itself could not constitute the offence of perverting the course of public justice unless one was able to establish that the failure to prosecute was itself as a result of a corrupt inducement or of a reward or some other benefit. This would seem to be a necessary follow on from the fact that the decision to prosecute is itself a discretionary one vested in either the Director of Public Prosecutions and/or An Garda Siochana depending on the nature of the offence alleged.”
    It’s a pretty apt piece by UCC, though related to inaction in cases of knowledge of child abuse. (http://www.ucc.ie/law/blogs/ccjhr/2009/12/murphy-report-can-failure-to-protect-be.html)
    I respect Mick’s conviction and agree with it, but what are the chances when everything is fuzzy, discretionary, unconstitutional, blah blah blah

    1. realPolithicks

      Also, what are the chances when nobody will investigate the damn thing. Ireland has to be one of the most corrupt countries in the developed world.

  3. Tish Mahorey

    For all those bringing up expensed restaurant bills. He is perfectly to entitled to expense restaurant bills for any meetings or entertainment on behalf of his business or business on behalf of others or the state.

    As if business owners don’t do this on a regular basis.

    1. Harry Molloy

      Something tells me you’d be less forgiving me someone from the other side but that’s just speculation on my part

      1. Kieran NYC

        Paul Murphy should try having Miriam O’Callaghan ‘disappeared’, for the craic, like. See how quickly he’d be forgiven for it on here.

        Not as if there isn’t precedent for a politician to bump off a mother of ten.

        1. Rowsdower

          Is that a reference to the allegations that Fianna Fail politicians were complicit in the murder of Mary Boyle cover up?

  4. Evenprime

    Go on the Wallace… I’d gladly buy the man his lunch…. Seems to be one of the few that are really fighting for a fair Ireland

    1. Andy

      How is he fighting for a fair Ireland?
      – He didn’t pay his taxes,
      – He can’t pay back his loans (why is he some sort of Saint while all the other developers are considered lepers?)
      – He moved his winery in Italy into his brothers name to put it beyond his creditors,
      – At the same time he’s off living it up at the World Cup and the Euros,
      – He has made a ton of allegations in the Dail under privilege as he won’t say them in public
      – He refused to appear before the PAC and wouldn’t go up the NAMA inquiry in Stormont,

      He is there for the salary and the fact he knows his creditors won’t bankrupt him as he’d lose his job as a TD.

      Some of what he has said has been great (the fee paid to the lawyers/Cushnahan in the North) but a lot of it has been rubbish.

      His contemporary in the North (Gareth Graham) also made a load of allegations against Cerberus re fixer fees etc yet he eventually had to settle his case, cover all costs and take out advertisements in Northern Newspapers apologizing for his false claims.

      These guys are out for themselves.

      1. B Hewson

        He makes broad generalisations that business is Ireland is corrupt “this is how business is done in Ireland”

        His family own multiple businesses if not all the business’s in a village in Wexford. He is an ex-developer who is a direct reason there is need for Nama in the first place.

        He is a TD on a big unvouched expenses gravy train.

        His allegations that there “must be corruption everywhere” say more about him than his allegations.

        +1 he should make his statements outside of Dail priveledge of he has something to say. Or write a book on his findings…

        1. Kieran NYC

          You can’t be a TD if you’re a bankrupt.

          You can be a convicted terrorist, but not a bankrupt. Odd little country.

  5. manonfire

    @B Hewson Hi barbara to be fair your not really the sort of person to lecture people on their conduct considering your past record with greville janner

  6. 15 cents

    if enda was truthful and genuine, he wouldve responded with “well i cant answer any of that because i have literally no idea whats going on all of the time. basically i just nod at people, and the ones who are nice to me i agree with and help out.”

  7. MoyestWithExcitement

    “journalists require evidence”

    How do you know he doesn’t have evidence?

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