Nama Lama Ding Dong

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From top: Apollo House on Monday: Dan Boyle

A glorious piece of political theatre has highlighted the absence of humanity within NAMA and throughout its activities.

Dan Boyle writes:

Seven years ago much of my time, probably too much, was spent grappling with, seeking to understand, then speaking with many others trying to collectively comprehend what NAMA was all about.

Knee jerkers had already determined that it was about throwing more money into an ever expanding black hole. An exercise of the State protecting the assets of its favoured developer class. A blatant attempt to keep property prices artificially high.

Political debate at the time wasn’t overflowing with alternatives. Sinn Féin offered nothing. Fine Gael suggested a bad bank. Labour proposed a nattily titled Asset Recovery Trust. All that was being outlined were synonyms, no real different policy approaches were being offered.Each wanted to achieve the effect of improving the balance sheets of our basket case banks, by removing the most toxic loans from their books.

Then and subsequent analysis usually misrepresented the figures involved. Property values were eventually to fall to 50% of their peak. This peak has invariably been the figure quoted by critics in assessing the success or otherwise of NAMA.

The loans which secured these properties were never 100% of their value. Some level of repayment would have been made. NAMA when taking over these loans secured a 60% discount on the then outstanding loan amounts. This was the figure that NAMA has been expected to recoup.

It seems on course to do this. At the time I argued that even if it were to come back with a small loss it would be seen as having done a good job. In these narrow terms NAMA can be judged to have been a success. Why then do I have a niggling feeling that NAMA has disappointed, that huge opportunities have been missed through its adopting a narrow books based approach to its portfolio?

Crisis creates opportunity. The crises of 2008/10 have been the deepest and most serious we have ever experienced as a State. The parallel opportunities created have not been seized upon. Our political system predictably has chosen not to. NAMA, in becoming possibly the largest property management company in the World, has had an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent our built environment. Its failure to scarcely recognise this possibility is the reason for my disappointment.

From my time on the Public Accounts Committee I had viewed people, like Nama chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh, to be extremely competent as well as being committed public servants.

Any whiff of corruption on the sale of its Northern Ireland portfolio seems to me to have emanated from the northern side of the border. The real failure of NAMA, to me, has been a failure of imagination.

A large element for initially securing Green Party support for NAMA was that agency would seek to provide a social dividend from its activities. This was written directly into NAMA’s mission statement. However, there seems to have been an ideological blockage to having to fulfil this obligation in any way at all.

This is why I would be hugely supportive of events at Apollo House. Commandeering a NAMA property for use as a temporary shelter for the homeless, is a glorious piece of political theatre. It may not be a Bastille moment, but it does highlight so well the absence of humanity within NAMA and throughout its activities.

There remains opportunity that what is left of NAMA’s portfolio can be maximised for social benefit. I would be hopeful if not expectant. The hope comes from what is happening at Apollo House. The lack of expectancy is the cynical residue of my experience in Irish politics.

With the week that is in it, it would be nice if hope would win for once.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

77 thoughts on “Nama Lama Ding Dong

  1. Jocky

    Green Party individuals have been blocking planning proposals for decades. Go and do one.
    We don’t need your socialism. We don’t need welfare. We need capitalism without constraints. Let them build.

    “But we need proper planing and environmental protection”. Ok so don’t build and let people be homeless or paying half their wages in rent for a kip. That’s what you want.

    1. Daddy

      “Capitalism without constraints”

      LOL. What a moron you are. If that’s the case then none of the banks would have been bailed out. There would be ZERO tax breaks for businesses or wealthier investors. There would no corporate tax rate for FDI.

      Basically none of things that make the rich so rich would be allowed.

      1. Jocky

        I never wanted the banks to be bailed out. That was a socialist policy. We don’t need tax breaks.
        BANG. Your points have been destroyed.

        1. Starina

          your lack of understanding is equal parts hilarious and horrifying, Jocky. trickle-down theory and unfettered capitalism do nothing but benefit those at the top and widen the gap between top and bottom.

          1. Joxer

            @Jocky . you never countered Starinas points. you just drifted straight into whataboutery…. the usual refuge for the right wing nut jobs.

      2. Happy Molloy

        Ideally take a little from column a and a little from column b.
        In comparison with the world, we actually do a decent enough job. Still loads of room for improvement of course.

  2. Pat Harding

    Nama in one word.

    FRAUD.

    It was set up to save a segment of Irish society who had effectively stolen, conned and cheated from the rest of us and we’re facing into financial oblivion. So they conjured up a vehicle to save themselves and screw the rest of us again. And the majority of Irish people were too dumbfounded to see it.

    1. Jocky

      It was setup to stop a firesale of state owned assets which it has largely achieved ultimately saving us further losses and allowing the government to spend more on services for people.

      1. Daddy

        It was set up to be sold off cheap to US Vulture Funds who pay no tax in Ireland and have caused a huge upsurge in rental prices. It is riddled with spies. One very large NAMA developer family has an in-law working in there. And that’s just one case.

        All the money they make on the sales goes back to pay off the loans. None of it goes into public spending. So that’s a lie.

        1. Jocky

          If they didn’t have the extra money then they would have to take it from their spending budget. It’s a pretty simple equation. You’d have us default like Greece though and see how that goes.

          1. Daddy

            Well if we had the “Capitalism Unconstrained” you so adore like a replacement for religion then Ireland would have defaulted because the bailout was Socialism for banks.

          2. Jocky

            Ireland would not have defaulted. The private banks would have. But FF and that Lenihan spa decided to take over the banks and from that day on the banks debt was our debt.

            Letting every single one of our banks fail would have been pretty castostrophic for many reasons and it was a pragmatic decision on his part but ultimately the wrong decision.

          3. Boj

            And I remember those same private banks supplying Mr. Lenihan with false figures prior to his decision to guarantee. AIB for example initially stated that they were on the hook for €2.1 billion when actual fact it was over 10 times that. Banks lied to run for cover of the taxpayer and took full advantage of the dumbfoundedness floating about the Dail. Hindsight is now sickening.

          4. Cian

            it is a pity that the banks were give a blanket guarantee. if AIB were told that (in the example above) that they would get a 2.1 billion guarantee it would have either (a) made AIB give a more accurate figure or (b) limited the state losses.
            Again, hindsight it wonderful! :-)

  3. scottser

    The real failure of NAMA, to me, has been a failure of imagination.

    no dan, the real failure of nama has been to flog perfectly good assets to vulture funds and to freeze out ordinary mortgage holders from buying back their debts, or from releasing assets that could have been used for the common good.

    1. Jocky

      Buying back their debts. Christ almighty…

      If you let people buy back their non performing debts then guess what? You will have every single person defaulting on their debts so they can buy them back at a fraction of the cost. No banks would ever lend again and the whole system would collapse.

      1. Anne

        As opposed to letting the vultures buy them at a fraction of the cost.. better to prop their profits up and let them evict people out of their homes, and the tax payer will have to foot the bill to house these people. Wonderful

        1. Dan Boyle

          Because constantly moving their goalposts and telling people what they want to hear makes someone an expert. A far browner nose than mine I suspect.

          1. Anne

            I have to be like psychic sally to try and decipher what you’re getting at, nevermind when you reply to the wrong comment.

            NamaWineLake doesn’t tell people what they want to hear. That’d be yourself Dan, saying Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh are extremely competent.
            Not even competent, but extremely mind you.

            It lacks imagination is the best you can come up. You’re a straight shooter all right Dan.

  4. bisted

    …although the greens appear to have slept through their time in government, they were complicit in the formation of Nama…Dan, Gogo and their mates were part of the problem…thankfully, they won’t be part of the solution…

  5. nellyb

    “Nama chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh, to be extremely competent as well as being committed public servants” and then “The real failure of NAMA, to me, has been a failure of imagination.”
    I can’t see how extreme competence can cohabit with lack of imagination in one head, bit oxymoronic. It’s more believable if both were under serious duress which you can’t discuss here.

    1. Anne

      extremely competent. lol What a joke.

      BS, could ye get someone who knows what they’re talking about in relation to Nama,like your man who uses the moniker NamaWineLake, instead of this brown noser?

    2. Cian

      I read this as “NAMA chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh are extremely competent [at achieving the economic mandate of NAMA]” but “The real failure of NAMA, to me, has been a failure of imagination [for the social mandate].”

      1. Loan Some Cow Boy

        Except that’s not what he said.

        Dan says he viewed them as extremely competent public servants.

        Talk about damning with faint praise!

    3. Owen C

      Competent but unimaginative. Think that’s the basic gist of what Dan meant. Doesnt seem unreasonable, even though i think their ability to actually be imaginative is overstated.

      1. nellyb

        i guess we differ on understanding of extreme competence. If it does not include risk assessment and forecasts, i would be reluctant to call it ‘extreme competence’. Anything to do with future requires developed imagination – risk is an attribute of the future, forecasts are imanged future.
        But as I said, Frank Daly and Brendan McDonagh unlikely lacked imagination, but suffered from serious undue pressure from people who did lack imagination.
        Naturally it’s conjectures and hearsay. That’s what happens when transparency is exiled from society. We’ll continue guessing, fake news will continue thriving.

        1. Loan Some Cow Boy

          It isn’t the job of executives in the public service to set strategy.

          It’s their job to implement policy and strategy which are usually set by legislators and political leaders after consultation.

  6. Cian

    I think one issue is that for NAMA they were given two conflicting mandates: one was economic the other social.
    One of these is easily measured (you paid 57bn for the loans; you recoup 60bn, you made a profit; you recoup 54bn you made a loss). The other one is nebulous. How do you objectively measure a ‘social dividend’? And regardless of how well they do someone will knock it as not right.
    If it were me, I’d probably concentrate on the measurable mandate, as you can never win on the other.

    1. Anne

      ” How do you objectively measure a ‘social dividend’?”

      Eh, living standards.. eh, access to health care. Access to education.
      Eh, affordable rent. Investments in infrastructure.
      Eh the level of inequality/ equal opportunities.

      It’s not that difficult to measure when a society is doing well, as opposed to when it’s just a concentrated oligarchy doing well.

      1. Cian

        okay, but how would you (A) objectively measure *NAMA* on achieving any of these
        – Eh, living standards.. eh, access to health care. Access to education.
        – Eh, affordable rent. Investments in infrastructure.
        – Eh the level of inequality/ equal opportunities.
        and (b) they have achieve many of these by investing their own NAMA money into completing half-built properties and selling them on.

        1. Anne

          Nama has been a big scam on the Irish people. It’s enriched a few insiders and vulture funds..that’s about the extent of it.

          1. Cian

            okay, that’s your view, but you didn’t answer my question.

            How would *you* objectively measure *NAMA* on achieving any of your points?

          2. Kieran NYC

            It’s also returning a profit to the Irish state, ensuring more funds available for social programs.

            Or did you actually expect NAMA to make everyone a millionaire?

  7. Owen C

    “The real failure of NAMA, to me, has been a failure of imagination.”

    I think this is unfair. It was never given any specific remit to proceed very far with the “social dividend” side of things. Legally, it would have been problematic (domestically as well as in the European context). In practical terms, can you imagine the claims of mission creep, mega-quangoism, empire building, politically-led (locally as well as nationally) investments etc. They’d have been on a hiding to nothing. The option was always there for local coco’s, housing agencies, other government led initiatives to buy assets out of NAMA at fair value, at which point people would have had to have been more honest about the ‘real’ cost of an underlying project, as opposed to this idea that NAMA can just gift assets to various public ventures at zero or discounted cost.

    1. Owen C

      As an example of the hiding to nothing, NAMA Winelake currently criticises NAMA for not investing more back into the economy, given its low cost structure etc. He originally, way, way back when, complained/warned that NAMA would be subject to massive political interference and mission creep. You genuinely cannot win in these situations.

    2. Cian

      Agreed, can we have a thought experiment:

      What would happen if NAMA decided that homelessness was a real social issue that they could fix, and decided to ‘donate’ Apollo House, and (say) four other office blocks to one (or more) of the Homeless charities to use as accommodation. Volunteers all chipped into paint and decorate these new homes.

      Economically, this would result in a loss of, say, €500,000,000 for NAMA (i.e. the State, i.e. you and me). Which means that the state can’t afford something else that costs €500m.

      Result: the state is out of pocket by 500m. NAMA fails its economic measure of a return on the €57bn.
      The homeless get 5 office blocks, but this isn’t what they need, so NAMA also fails it ‘social dividend’ test.

      So perhaps what NAMA should do is to sell these offices, give the €500m to the State, and the State invests some/all of this into getting appropriate homeless shelters.

      1. scottser

        no-one wants nama to donate office blocks, they want housing schemes. nama however, decided to take their prime housing assets and sell them to the highest bidder. the properties that they did give over to the local authorities weren’t fit for purpose and would cost far too much to put right.

        1. Anne

          “decided to take their prime housing assets and sell them to the highest bidder.”

          Or those willing to pay the biggest back handers.

        2. Loan Some Cow Boy

          If i was a homeless lad I don’t think I’d care whether the roof over my head was concrete slab or cold pitched.

          Nama should be donating the use of the buildings that are not being used or have no realisable commercial value in the short term to help address chronic housing needs.

      2. Michael

        ” However, there seems to have been an ideological blockage to having to fulfil this obligation in any way at all.”
        Nama has given over 2000 properties to local authorities for public housing. Thats over 2000 permanent units, not makeshift use of offfices for emergencies. Has offered nearly 7000.
        Not saying more could not be done but not true do say nothing has been done
        http://linkis.com/www.nama.ie/social-i/wuznc

    3. Anne

      “I think this is unfair. It was never given any specific remit to proceed very far with the “social dividend” side of things.”

      Eh, WRONG. Again.
      http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/housing-crisis-why-nama-should-be-asked-to-do-more-to-alleviate-the-shortage-1.2017674

      Nama has a mandate to ‘contribute to the social and economic development of the State’

      The uncomfortable truth is that those who will benefit most from Government housing policy, and Nama in particular, are international wealthy investors and banks, developers and landlords – and not the ordinary Irish people who have paid dearly for the write-downs on development loans transferred to Nama.

      1. Owen C

        “Specific remit”. In terms of actual policy, what was NAMA asked to do? Was it specifically told by the government to build houses? Was it specifically told to build schools or hospitals? Was it specifically told to build infrastructure or similar like playgrounds, sports facilities, public amenities? Not it wasn’t. Wishy washy stuff about social and economic development are best left for the toilet please. It’s amazing how you seem like a reasonably smart person Anne, but have the reading capabilities of a 4 year old.

        1. Anne

          Nama had a mandate to contribute not only to the economic development of the state but the social development also.

          Now saying it didn’t contribute to the social development in any “specific” way because our government didn’t instruct it to do so is kinda pointing out the obvious Owen C.

          We all know it has failed society miserably. Our government, through Nama have acted as the middle man in enslaving a generation of the Irish people to extortionate rents and all the knock on effects that entails for people..i.e. not being able to afford other necessities.

          Have you any valuable input to offer at all I wonder?

          You’ll tell us what we already know in terms of Nama. Like how you were explaining to us how the banks duped customers out of their tracker mortgages and how “many” of them weren’t entitled to go back onto their trackers ( it had to be pointed out to you that many of them were actually entitled to revert to their trackers).

          You don’t seem to have much of a moral compass Owen C.

          It’s a pity to not know what you stand for.

      2. Kieran NYC

        You’d be just as willing to moan about “unelected quangos doing this and that to peoples’ lives” if they did get involved though.

        Asking a bank to set social policy makes about as much sense as asking An Post to run a hospital.

  8. Fully Keen

    NAMA isn’t a charity. Mosts things aren’t, this shoe isn’t, that plant pot, that fluffy dog, yer ma…

  9. nellyb

    “The lack of expectancy is the cynical residue of my experience in Irish politics”.
    Sorry for cliches, but politics are shaped by voters’ ‘mentality du jour’. Small time corruption is a norm on lay citizenry level – ‘finders fees’, ‘my cousin can do that website for a bit of cash’ (= someone learned glorious drag-n-drop over weekend and granted oneself a degree in web technologies for that), pushing $h!t€ services to State departments in exchange for premium fees….
    Point being – I don’t see any merit in treating politics as separate entity to voters’ attitudes. We must accept we’re as pretty as the gov we elected.

  10. ollie

    Don’t fall off that bandwagon Dan Boyle. I have never heard or read a single negative utterance from you with regards to NAMA until today, no support for those TDs who have expressed concern, no comment on the thousands of families in emergency accommodation, no comment on the plight of those living on the streets who need proper care not just mattresses.
    Do you forget who was in government when legislation was passed to set up NAMA?

    To refresh your memory, here’s some quotes from you. If they are out of context please let me know.
    “The debt of the banks is almost the taxpayers debt. ”
    “Any corporate or personal entity that needs to borrow money every week must in so far as possible repay those moneys. ” Yet you had no problem letting the taxpayer pay the debts of the corporate banking sector!

    On NAMA; “We should try to obtain the best possible return for our money.” You seem to have changed your opinion now Dan! To obtain the best possible return Apollo House must be vacated and sold

  11. Mourning Ireland

    NAMA is a vehicle for the business gesture transfer of wealth from the public to the private. Dan Boyle was a member of the Government that set it up.

    He should do to himself what NAMA did to us: Go and get fupped with his head up his own bottom.

    1. Dan Boyle

      NAMA never has had responsibility for any public assets. No public assets were transferred by it to private ownership. Gesture is the right word. Gesture politics removed from fact, underlined by personal prejudice.

      1. Anne

        “NAMA never has had responsibility for any public assets”

        Funded by the taxpayer though.. so he’s right.

        “Gesture politics removed from fact, underlined by personal prejudice.”

        What’s that gibberish mean in English Dan?

      2. Daddy

        Dan he wasn’t talking about public property. He was talking about loans owned by the banks (which became property of the state). Those were sold at knock down prices. THAT is how the public wealth was transferred to the private sector. That’s what the whole financial collapse and subsequent bailouts did. It was no accident.

        1. Dan Boyle

          But they weren’t. It was the State that paid the knockdown prices and recovers the money that was spent.

          1. Daddy

            Fair point yes but there is no doubt that wealth was transferred cheaply to the private sector with the help of Governments across Europe. Those properties are now surging up in value with loans worth a fraction of the original value.

            No real help was offered to the citizens. They weren’t bailed out. It was certainly unfair.

            Now these Vulture Funds are charging maximum rents, pushing up other rents and paying almost no tax on their huge profits.

            It’s anti-social.

          2. nellyb

            So, NAMA did OK for the public purse then, within defined parameters?
            How do NAMA-paid wages to failed developers fit into a good deal for public?
            What kind of services were rendered to NAMA so NAMA felt it had to put developers on public payroll? OR were these wages paid to developers by private third parties via NAMA?
            I don’t believe someone should open a discussion about complex NAMA issues while explicitly and intentionally avoiding details. It paves way for conspiracies and outrage. No one is any wiser at the end.

          3. Owen C

            Simply, someone had to develop or manage the underlying NAMA assets (ie the properties). A developer/builder/real estate professional would be the person most qualified to do this. Ideally it should have been someone not exposed to NAMA or the Irish property crash, but unfortunately almost everyone in this field was!

            If you didn’t get a property developer to build something on a NAMA asset, who would you have gotten?

  12. Baffled

    The crocodile tears of the left-wing environmentalist. Green politicians and their opposition to ‘unsustainable’ development are the reason why we don’t have high rise buildings to house the masses.

    1. Nigel

      Yeah the corrupt planning free-for-all left us really well positioned to cope with the current housing crisis. Environmentalists are generally in favour of high-density urban development as opposed to ribbon development, urban sprawl and one-off housing. I wonder what the current regime favours?

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