Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are going to vote against our bill to enshrine neutrality in our constitution. It looks like the Greens are going to vote against aswell.
The vote on our bill is this evening.
Contact your local government TD’s and call on them to support our bill. pic.twitter.com/v8lej27op3
The Dáil has heard the Irish Republic is under attack from those – including the Government – who want to undermine its neutrality, with Solidarity-People Before Profit warning that the Ukraine crisis is being used to push such “militarisation“.
Solidary-PBP today moved the Thirty Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Neutrality) Bill, which proposes a referendum to provide a constitutional guarantee of Ireland’s neutrality.
The party’s TD for Dún Laoghaire Richard Boyd Barrett said many people believe that neutrality already has such a guarantee, as it has such “long-standing and overwhelming” support.
He also accused the Government of being “dishonest and misleading” in its opposition to the bill, which will be voted on this evening.
“Ireland’s neutrality and the struggle for an independent Irish Republic are one and the same thing”, he said, and warned that moves against neutrality amount to “a betrayal of the Republic”.
Mr Coveney warned that the bill before the House could constrain the Government’s ability to take part in peace-keeping missions, particularly UN missions “with a peace-enforcement (or Chapter 7) mandate”.
It could “neutralise the ability of the Irish Defence Forces to operate overseas”, he said, and even “prevent the provision of non-lethal equipment”, including to Ukraine, through the European Peace Facility.
“To be blunt, it could prevent us from putting our money where our mouth was”, Mr Coveney cautioned.
From @RBoydBarrett. “I can confirm that People Before Profit will be opposing the extension of these emergency powers. We are outraged that the Govt see fit to look for an extension of powers which seem to have been used disproportionately against …poorer communities”. Yes!
Zero Covid enthusiasts People Before Profit make a u-turn ahead of a debate this evening on whether the covid Emergency powers are to be extended until November, with the possibility of a three-month extension until February next year.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said last month the November date was informed by ‘public health advice’ and “may well be required into late autumn or early winter”.
Solidarity/People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett (above centre) and supporters protest outside the former Christian Brothers School where a controversial ‘co-living’ space has been earmarked. Mr Barrett launched a petition calling on the government to scrap co-living following this “outrageous” An Bord Pleanala ruling.
The shared accommodation model involves en-suite bedrooms of just 16.5 square metres with communal living areas and kitchens.
In the Dáil, during Leaders’ Questions, which were taken by Tanáiste Simon Coveney.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised this afternoon’s debate and vote on Permanent Structured Co-operation – an EU security and defence agreement – otherwise known as PESCO.
The ultimate aim of PESCO is to “deepen” defence co-operation among EU members states.
Mr Barrett ended up asking Mr Coveney to publish the Attorney General’s advice on PESCO but Mr Coveney pointed out the AG’s advice is never published.
From their exchange…
Richard Boyd Barrett: “Tanaiste, minister, this is the week that Donald Trump has declared war on the people of Palestine and the wider Arab and Muslim world by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – threatening to inflame conflict right across the Middle East.
“Now, against that background of war mongering, increased militarism by Trump, it is more important than ever that Ireland holds on to its traditional position of military neutrality and opposing war mongering and militarism.
“And yet, it is precisely in this week, that the Government has rammed through and quite successfully, to this point, buried what is the biggest betrayal of Irish neutrality since the decision to allow US forces use Shannon Airport to bomb Iraq back into the Dark Ages.
“The vote that will take place today, for us to join permanent, structured cooperation on a new common defence project in the European Union is an absolute betrayal of Ireland’s neutrality.
“It is a step towards involvement in what is explicitly being touted by Donald Tusk, by Juncker, by Macron as a new European army and common defence pact.
“And you have buried this. You misled the business committee because the decision to join PESCO was taken, we were informed by Minister Kehoe who didn’t know much else frankly about this, but the one thing he informed us last night, was this decision was taken on the 21st of November and yet, for two business committee meetings, afterwards, not a mention that you were planning to push this vote through this week.
“No doubt you’ve been briefing the media that there’s nothing to see here, it’s irrelevant, not significant, there’s no legal implications, but the truth is this is us joining up in a common defence which will require us regularly, I’m quoting, increased defence budgets in real terms, to meet the 2% GDP benchmark, that would mean a quadrupling of our Irish defence expenditure.
“These are binding..common commitments. It will involve bringing our defence apparatus in line with other member states.
“It will involve establishing permanent, inter-operability with NATO, it will involve increased expenditure on arms and weaponry to benefit the European military industrial complex and now my question is not only why have you mislead the country, and try to bury this significant betrayal of Irish neutrality but I want to ask you seriously: is this not unconstitutional?
“Apart from everything else, is it not unconstitutional? Article 29.4.9 of our constitution says the following: ‘the State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union where that common defence would include the State’, our state.
“This is a common defence, it is explicit, anybody who wants to, who doubts that, should read the PESCO agreement. We are signing up for a common defence, in defiance of our own constitution and you’ve mislead the public, you’ve mislead the Dail, and played fast and loose with the business committee.”
Simon Coveney: “What I don’t agree with you on, deputy, is the attempt by you, and others, in this House, to paint PESCO, Permanent Structured Cooperation, as something that it’s not.
“I’m a former Minister for Defence, I’m somebody who has listened to many debates in relation to this initiative. The truth is, deputy, that is simply a structured initiative that allows member states to opt in and opt out, depending on what they’re comfortable with, on different projects.
“We have other non-aligned countries, and usual countries like Sweden, Austria, Finland that have already signed up. And from an Irish perspective, this is an opportunity for us to essentially share resources and access other resources in areas where we are comfortable in co-operation and it’s no more or less than that, on a case-by-case basis.
“I suspect we will want to use this in terms of counter-terrorism, in terms of peace-keeping and training, in areas potentially like marine surveillance, so that Ireland can be part of collective initiatives when it’s appropriate to be a part of those collective initiatives in the context of the European Union.
“As the Taoiseach said yesterday, other countries will see it differently. Other countries may want to get more involved in a more structured way in projects that will not have an involvement in.
“And so I would ask the deputy to actually call this what it is, as opposed to trying to create some kind of conspiracy that simply doesn’t exist.
“This is a conversation that’s been happening since the Lisbon Treaty and it is now something that is coming to finality, following a long debate that a lot of countries have been involved in, neutral states, NATO members and others.
“And Ireland insisted, as others did, on language in the context of the setting up of PESCO to ensure that it is constitutional, to ensure that it doesn’t undermine Irish neutrality, to ensure that the triple lock still applies if we’re going to send troops to any other part of the world.
“So, from that point of view, we have tested this in the context of some of the questions that you’ve asked and it does not undermine what is important to Irish people and what is important to mewhich is that Ireland remains non aligned militarily and a neutral state.”
Boyd Barrett: “That is the most cynical rubbish I have ever heard.
“Right. And I really appeal, I really appeal to the public and the press to simply read the document. Notification on Permanent Structure Cooperation. OK?
“It includes, for example, binding commitments. First of all, it refers to 20 binding commitments, there’s no ambiguity about the language. One of those includes commitment to agree on a common technical and operation standards of forces, acknowledging that they need to ensure interoperability with NATO.
“That’s NATO that involves Donald Trump and the United States, right?
“That’s what we’re talking about. We are committing to the integration of Irish defence forces with NATO. It commits us and we still haven’t got answers on this, it commits us to real increases in defence budgets ok?
“Successive medium-term increase in defence investment. Increasing the share of expenditure allocated to defence research and technology which will be reviewed on an annual basis. A national implementation plan to meet these targets.
“This is the military equivalent of the Fiscal Treaty and we are signing up to it. And what, this is what, I’ll just conclude on this.
“This is Tusk said about PESCO, it’s purpose is to protect the bloc from the effects of the migrant crisis and hostile bordering states. Effects of the migrant crisis? 35,000 people drowned in the Mediterranean thanks to Fortress Europe.
“And they want to militarise the wall that Donald Trump dreams of building to keep those desperate people out. This is what they’re about. And you have deceived the public. And I would just ask this simple question: Give us the legal advice that that doesn’t run counter to Article 29. Can you give us that advice before we have to take the vote today?
“From the Attorney General that that does not run counter to Article 29 of the constitution.”
Coveney: “Well I can tell you deputy that we wouldn’t be bringing a vote to this house if we hadn’t….sorry…you know only too well, that the AG’s legal advice is not published, ever. So, so. You know. Stop asking for things you know you can’t access…”
“The AG’s responsibility is to get legal advice to the Government and the Government then brings proposals to the House that’s consistent with that, that’s the way this House works. That’s the way this House works.
“In relation to interoperability, deputy, there’s nothing new in that. The Irish Defence Forces have worked with NATO in the past. We’ve done it in Afghanistan and any time you send peacekeepers to any part of the world, are you seriously suggesting that our peacekeepers shouldn’t be interoperable with colleagues that they work with? In parts of the world where they put their lives at risk, deputy, to defend peace and stability of strangers that they’ve never met.
“The problem that you have is that you don’t seem to understand the risks that Irish troops put themselves in, in the pursuit of peace and stability
“And my job is to make sure that we reduce those risks by making sure that they have the budgets and the equipment to do the job properly to ensure that we have enough people in terms of personnel in the Defence Forces to make sure that they’re well-equipped and well trained.
“And to make sure that when they’re working with others, when we make the voluntary decision and it’s confirmed by they triple lock, to send troops to parts of the world, that they have trained, and that they are interoperable in a professional sense with others that they will be working with.
“And that makes perfect sense to me. It is also absolutely consistent with the new White Paper on defence which was supported and passed in this House.”
You cannot visit The Irish Anti-War Movement or Shannonwatch websites from Oireachtas computers. They’re blocked! @PaulMurphyTD also reveals arms industry lobbying in Brussels has doubled to €5.6m in one year. They’re not lobbying for lower expenditure on arms! #pesco
It had originally proposed that where a landlord proposes to sell 20 or more units in a development – within six months – the sales would be conditional on existing tenants being able to remain in the property unless there were exceptional circumstances.
During a Seanad debate on this amendment, the number was changed from 20 to five.
Readers may also wish to note how director of advocacy Focus Ireland Mike Allen in January stated that “a third of families who are becoming homeless in Dublin are becoming homeless because their landlord has been forced to sell up“.
Further to this.
Richard Boyd Barrett spoke about the Tyrrelstown amendment in an interview with Seán O’Rourke on RTE Radio One this morning, in regards to an apartment development, called Robin Hill, in Sandyford, Dublin 4, which went into Nama and was then subsequently sold to Cerberus.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council requested to buy 15 of the apartments in May of last year but was told it would have to buy the entire complex.
This morning, Jack Fagan, in The Irish Timesreports that the complex is on sale, in one lot, from today with a guiding price of €14million.
According to Mr Boyd-Barrett, some of Robin Hill’s tenants are now facing eviction.
During the Seán O’Rourke show:
Seán O’Rourke: “I quote the minister [for housing Simon Coveney] from what he said yesterday. He said, and this is regard to protecting people who are there in an apartment block being sold. He said, if 10 or more properties are being sold in one sale, then people who have tenancies in the apartments affected get protected through that sale and I said I’ve asked Richard, in other words you, to send me the details of any cases or any individual issues he has. Now surely that reflects an openness on the minister’s part?”
Richard Boyd-Barrett: “No, first of all, when I raised this issue on Tuesday, the minister did not contact me and ask me, he didn’t in the Dáil, or afterwards, ask me for the details of Robin Hill. That’s simply not true.”
“Secondly, what the legislation refers to, actually means is, that the vulture fund or landlord can evict nine people and then six months later, by the way, the legislation will allow them to evict another nine people. And six months after that, another nine people.
“So, this figure of 10 – which was never explained why we had to include it. We, at the time of the legislation sought to bring that down to zero. In other words that, if you were selling a multi-unit development, you would have to sell it with the tenants in situ and guarantee the security of tenure and the Government resisted that, for reasons I don’t understand but it now seems for reasons that benefitted vulture funds who are trying to profiteer at the expense of tenants they want to evict or massively increase rents.”
In the Dáil.
Readers may wish to recall the exchange Mr Boyd Barrett had with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders’ Questions, in respect of Robin Hill.
Richard Boyd Barrett: “I will cite a very concrete example of how decisions the Government made in the past six months have contributed directly to this shambles and the hardship that follows. Robin Hill, a development of apartments in Balally in Sandyford, was originally built by the McEvaddy brothers in 2008. The development, which consists of 52 apartments, went into NAMA at some point.
For most of the time it has been in NAMA, at least 15 and possibly as many as half of the apartments have been empty while the housing crisis spirals out of control. In May 2016, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council asked whether it would purchase 15 of the vacant units. It was told that it could only buy the entire block.
Shortly after the Project Eagle scandal broke in September, NAMA agreed the sale of Project Gem, which included these apartments, to the vulture fund Cerberus. The sale, which was one of the biggest sales of property in the history of the State, went through.
Since then, Cerberus has moved to start evicting the tenants in a block that is still half empty. Of the 21 remaining tenants I have met, five are to be evicted in June.
Others whom Cerberus feels it cannot evict straight away have been told they must pay an extra €250 per month in heating and hot water charges that were previously included in the rent. They were never charged for that previously. In other words, this is a back-door rent increase of about 20%.
These empty units are sitting there while we have record numbers in homeless accommodation with evictions to follow. This would have been avoidable if NAMA had not sold this development to a vulture fund but had given it to the local authority as it requested and if the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government had ensured his Bill before Christmas included a provision to prevent new owners from evicting tenants when apartments are sold, as we warned would happen, or finding back-door ways to ratchet up rents. Is it not the truth that the crisis is avoidable and has resulted from the Government’s policy failures?”
Enda Kenny: “No, it is not the truth. The problem here is the supply of houses throughout the country. Anyone can understand that there is real pressure in certain segments of the housing sector. The Deputy can nod his head if he likes. I read a report this morning that said that 49 houses priced between €400,000 and €700,000 were snapped up inside a day by those who could afford them. There are no difficulties in certain areas.
It is true to say that there is a serious issue here. A total of 40,000 vacant units have been bought by the State in the past five years.
Boyd-Barrett: “A fantasy figure has just appeared, namely, that the State has apparently purchased 40,000 houses. The more accurate truth is that NAMA has flogged off thousands of homes or, worse, as the Balally example indicates, has sat on empty properties in public ownership and when local authorities sought to purchase them, it refused and chose to sell them to a vulture fund instead.”
“The vulture fund is now moving to evict people, bypass the Minister’s totally inadequate legislation and ratchet up the rent on tenants it cannot immediately evict. I suspect, and the tenants fear, that they will be evicted in phases because under the Tyrrelstown amendment, no more than ten tenants may be evicted at one time, which is leading to landlords evicting tenants en bloc. That is almost certainly the case and the Taoiseach allowed it to happen by selling apartment blocks.”
“How many more Balallys are there? How many more in Project Gem? How many more people will get eviction notices from vulture funds to which NAMA sold properties at a massive discount rather than give them to the local authorities. There are 50,000 empty properties in Dublin. The Balally situation indicates why there is a supply problem in spite of that. That is the real issue. It is not an absolute supply problem, it is a man-made one resulting from the behaviour of NAMA and the vulture funds, which are sitting on empty properties, evicting people in order to inflate property prices and rents and make more profit from the misery of those they evict or who cannot afford to rent such properties.
Kenny: “Let me clarify what I meant when I said that 40,000 properties have come back into use.”
Bríd Smith: “That is not what the Taoiseach said.”
Pearse Doherty: “That is not what was said.”
Kenny: “I take the Deputy’s point. One thousand properties were purchased by the State at a cost of €203 million.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh: “That is 39,000 fewer than the original figure the Taoiseach gave.”
You’ll recall a post from earlier concerning a Dáil debate about the establishment of Commission of Investigation into Nama.
During his opening statement, before leaving the Dáil chamber, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said:
“Throughout the Opposition’s statements today, there may well be bounds for other Nama transactions to be reviewed…I have little doubt that the calls to change Nama’s mandate, or even halt Nama’s activities, will continue. A change of mandate is outside the scope of a Commission of Investigation but it will attempt to summarise the position as, unfortunately, public discourse rarely captures what the agency can and cannot do.”
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dáil he received a folder on Monday concerning a site in Spencer Dock, Dublin 1.
“That is a site that was originally to be developed, owned by CIE, developed by, it was going to be developed by Treasury Holdings, who couldn’t get…I rang Nama today to try and get the par value of the original loans, pertaining to the site and they couldn’t give me the answer. They said they might get back to me. But the, we’re talking in the hundreds and hundreds of millions.
“And that site is now commencing development again and it’s being talked about as being a €600million development. The developer, although Nama would not confirm this to me, and I asked them on the phone: who bought the site? Because we know from the last act that the original developers were not supposed to get their own loans back. Or that the sites, if you like, that, the sites pertaining to those loans. But the original developer was Treasury Holdings and it was reported, in October of last year, that Johnny Ronan, formerly of Treasury Holdings, was the preferred bidder in the bidding process which was launched last February 2016, where that portfolio, or that site, was put out on the market at a guide price of €50million, owned by CIE.
“But, CIE had an arrangement with Treasury Holdings. An arrangement was very seriously questioned and criticised at the time by Minister [Mary] O’Rourke, subsequently by Deputy [Pat] Rabbitte where there was, in fact, a report ordered by Minister O’Rourke into the whole deal between CIE and Treasury Holdings, on the grounds that Minister O’Rourke, at the time, and others, believed there were serious questions as to whether the public interest had been served in the deal that had been done between CIE and Treasury Holdings – as all CIE were going to get, for their site, was 17% of the sale value of any development or 17% of the rent. The rest was to go to Treasury Holdings, Johnny Ronan, [Richard] Barrett and so on.
“They obviously, they went into Nama – owing I think it was €2.6billion in total for Treasury Holdings, €1.67billion went into Nama.
“Now, the first question I have is: Johnny Ronan exited Nama, apparently paying off his €250million debt, but he now has the site again. Right? €250million, not €1.6billion, I don’t know exactly the breakdown in Treasury Holdings’ debt, but he has the site again.
“The guide price, €50million for that six-acre site. Now, comparisons of similar sites on the open market at the moment will suggest that per acre you should be paying around €20million per acre which is €120million. Not the reported, although I couldn’t get this confirmed by Nama either, the reported €42.5million that Ronan, backed by Colony – a big investment fund – who refinanced Ronan’s loans, are reported to have paid, although I can’t get the answer from Nama which I find extraordinary when I rang them this morning, ‘we can’t tell you how much was paid for the site, we can’t tell you who bought it’.
“But it was reported, in October, that it was €42.5million and it was Johnny Ronan, backed by Colony who bought it. Now if that’s true, if the comparable prices, per acre, are in the region of €20million – then it means we have sold a site, Nama sold a site worth €120million for €42.5million. That’s shocking. Absolutely shocking. And the developer who now has it, is the developer who originally went into Nama back in, when Treasury Holdings were taken over by Nama.
“At the time, just on the valuations, back in 2002, per acre down the [Dublin] docklands was €8m-€14million – that’s in 2002. Right? So, it’s very reasonable to assume that in the last surge in property values since then, that €20million is a reasonable valuation.”
Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace also spoke during the debate, addressing his concerns to Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle (above) as Minister Noonan had left the chamber.
Mr Wallace said he’s seen an affidavit made by former Nama employee Enda Farrell who, last year, was given a two-year suspended sentence after he was found to have leaked potentially sensitive information – and said the affidavit was “worrying”.
Amongst other things.
Mr Wallace said:
“Minister, this was moved from Thursday to Wednesday so Minister Noonan could be here. He’s not here. Now his contribution at the start was pathetic. The contribution that the PAC, chairman, wasn’t much better.
“The notion that the PAC are an investigative body is total rubbish. The C&AG [Comptroller and Auditor General] looked at one dimension of one sale and the PAC are looking at it. They can’t access Nama’s papers. They can’t possibly hold Nama to account. Nama went into the PAC eight times now and they said what they liked. It’s absolute rubbish.
“It’s four months since the Taoiseach agreed to establish a Commission of Investigation into the secret society that’s Nama. Since then, Nama have sold over €4billion in par value of loans to vulture funds and almost €3million worth of this loans went to their good friend Cerberus. I agree that the commission should begin with examining Project Eagle as its first module but the problems in Nama are sadly not unique to Nama’s northern Ireland loan portfolio. It’s imperative that any commission adopts a modular approach, similar to the IBRC investigation.
“The allegations made by Enda Farrell – a former Nama staff member – should be the second schedule. It seems Nama may have internally investigated some of Nama’s officials named by Farrell in his affidavit – who may have leaked confidential information or engaged in malpractice. These internal investigations should be made available to the commission.I have read his affidavit and I can tell you it’s worrying.
“If one looks at the assets they have purchased, the links back to Nama begin to appear. The forum building, the Dublin Observatory building, Harcourt Street, Windmall Lane, New Century House, the Central Quay – all these assets were in Nama and are now in the hands of Hibernia REIT, either through direct purchases or secondary deals.
“A fourth module should consist of an examination of any internal Nama investigations into Nama officials regarding the leaking of confidential information or alleged malpractice. And if the judge sees fit, to investigate any other allegations of unauthorised leaking.
“The Commission of Investigation should provide this initial report on Project Eagle within six months and the remaining modules within 12. And, most importantly, any report that’s made should be made public.
“Before I move back to Project Eagle, I would just like to put on the record that the Comptroller and Auditor General’s role, in relation to Nama, has been abused by the Government. The Taoiseach, at one stage, tried to tell us that the C&AG had staff within Nama, this had to be rebuked by the C&AG who said, ‘an impression being given that everything that moves in Nama is seen by, and examined, by somebody from my office is absolutely incorrect’.
“Minister Noonan recently tried to tell me that the C&AG would have called for a halt to Nama’s activities – had he felt it was warranted. Again, the C&AG rebuked it. He said that it was prohibited from expressing an opinion on the merits of policy.
“On an aside, I’d like to tell the minister that Cormac Butler, a financial consultant and a member of the Namaleaks team, has pointed out that Nama may not even hold a legal title to the assets transferred over from the Irish banks in 2009, given that when a bank is insolvent, the ECB automatically acquires control of its assets. If that is the case, it would mean that the ECB, not Nama, is the owner of the loans.
“We’ve been raising some of these issues with the minister and his department since last August but to little avail. Cormac Butler has also been making the point that when Wilbur Ross – Donald Trump’s secretary of congress nominee – purchased Bank of Ireland shares in 2011 and then flipped them in 2014, for a profit of €477million, he did so with the advantage of having access to the financial position of the bank which was not in the public domain, information which was not available to smaller shareholders.
“I’d like the minister to confirm or deny that his, that his officials are now aware that the activities of Wilbur Ross and his sale of Bank of Ireland shares is the subject of an investigation in the US. They do an odd one over there. They’re a little bit more fond of it than we are.
“To go back to Project Eagle. The sale stinks from start to finish. In late 2016, we travelled to Asia to meet a businessman named Barry Lloyd who had contacted us through our whistleblower site, Namaleaks.
“As early as December 2010, Frank Cushnahan had been trying to sell the Nama loan portfolio in one lot. He met with Barry Lloyd and told him he had been heavily engaged by Nama and that there were very substantial opportunities for major returns for anyone who could access international funds to acquire blocks of development assets from Nama.
“Barry continued to meet and engage with Cushnahan and representatives from Tughan’s solicitors throughout 2011 – with a view to secure Asian investors – but the proposed deal eventually fell through in April 2012. Barry Lloyd has signed an affidavit in the last week in Dublin and has met with the NCA [Britain’s National Crime Agency].
“In November 2012, Brown Rudnick met Cushnahan and Ian Coulter at Tughan’s office. By February 2013, they were sitting down with [Northern Ireland’s] Finance Minister Sammy Wilson. April 2013, Pimco were on the scene. By May 2013, they were meeting Peter Robinson. When Pimco was informed by Brown Rudnick that it was the northern Irish government’s preferred purchaser of Nama’s northern Irish loan portfolio, and still not even a price on it.
“We’re told that they didn’t meet Ronnie Hanna until September 2013. By December 2013, Hanna was haggling for an exclusive deal with Pimco, I wonder why. We then had some role-playing, pretending that it was going to be an open process.
“Lazard brought in, to supposedly manage the sale, they weren’t even allowed to value the portfolio. They weren’t even allowed to control the data room. And when Pimco pulled out, Nama didn’t even tell Lazard the reason, why? And they didn’t even attend the meeting in late March between Cerberus and Nama, why? But they were paid €4.3million for a few months’ work? A lot of money just for a bit of back combing.
“Hogan Lovells were brought in for legal advice. But Nama didn’t even ask them their advice, following Pimco’s admission of a fixer’s fee for the boys. Nama didn’t even ask their advice when they discovered that Cerberus had gone ahead and paid the €15million fixer’s fee anyway.
“Nama says they had a problem with Pimco, paying a fixer’s fee, so why didn’t they have a problem with Cerberus paying one? Just because the boys took Cushnahan’s name off the list? Seriously?
“Why did Nama refuse our FOI requests regarding their correspondence with Hogan Lovells? Nama agreed to pay Hogan Lovells €290,000 – ended up paying them €1.1million, for what?
“That Frank Cushnahan, Ronnie Hanna and Dave Watters were a cabal, making it all happen in the background is now beyond question. Frank Daly told the PAC [public accounts committee] last September that our key decision was to set a minimum price of €1.3billion for this portfolio. But they didn’t, Pimco set the price. Dave Watters did the business plans, Cushnahan pulled the strings and Ronnie Hanna fixed the price in Dublin.
“The reason that Nama fell foul of the C&AG was because the task of retrofit in the price led to them breaking their own rules. Of course, when Frank Cushnahan became unbackable, Nama decided to throw him under the bus and distance themselves from him as much as possible.
“But why did it take Nama until April 2016 – two years later – to even report him to SIPO. Why didn’t they report him under section 19 of the Criminal Justices Act or did they at all?
“We then began to hear NAMA tell us about how insignificant the NIAC was, so Cushnahan didn’t really matter at all. But Minister for Finance [Michael Noonan], on the 18th June, 2012 said:
‘I would like to thank Frank Cushnahan and Brown Rowntree for agreeing to continue serving on NAMA’s NIAC. I see this committee as having a very important role in assisting NAMA meet its obligations on both sides of the Border.’
“Then NAMA told us that Cushnahan had no access to confidential information. So why did NAMA ask him to return it or destroy it, if there was no value in it?
“Frank Daly was still trying to distance himself from Cushnahan when asked about joining the board of the religious charity Corani, of which Cushnahan was a long-standing member.
“Frank Daly said:
‘I think it was a pure coincidence. It’s a charity operated by Redemptorists. He was on the board for quite some time. I know some Redemptorists in Dublin and I was asked whether I would join the board. It was not a month later. As far as I know, it was probably the best part of a year later.’
“The truth is, it was a month later – not a year later. Cushnahan joined the NIAC on the 13th May, 2010. Frank Daly joined Corani 32 days later on the 14th of June, 2010. Can we believe anything that he tells us? The Project Eagle sales process was a textbook disaster.”
Acting Ceann Comhairle asks Mr Wallace to withdraw calling Mr Daly a liar. Mr Wallace said: “I didn’t say he was, honestly, I didn’t. I asked can we believe what he says, I didn’t say he was a liar.” Mr Wallace then continues:
“The Project Eagle sales process was a textbook disaster: Short time span for possible bidders; limited information; a one-bid process; no local valuations allowed. This all suited PIMCO, and later Cerberus, who bought the same info from the boys. It was never a competitive process. PIMCO’s gig only, became Cerberus’s gig only. And NAMA’s ridiculous decision to sell it in one lot, suited the fixers just fine.
“Did Ronnie Hanna declare any conflict he might have had with Northern Ireland connections from his Ulster Bank Northern Ireland days? Why did NAMA treat business people in the Republic of Ireland almost four times less favourably than those in Northern Ireland? Is it possible that Frank Cushnahan or Ronnie Hanna might have had anything to do with that?
“During his employment at NAMA, as Head of Asset Recovery, how many connections did Ronnie Hanna approve enforcement against? All of these need to be investigated to ascertain whether there was favouritism or motivation of any sort.
“In the BBC northern Ireland Spotlight programme, Frank Cushnahan clearly states that he went to Ronnie to make sure that John Miskelly’s ‘lights wouldn’t be put out’. ‘Me and Ronnie are thick as thieves,’ Cushnahan said. The entire Miskelly file needs to be investigated. All northern Ireland debtor and Project Eagle files need to be looked at, to discern whether there was favouritism or influence.
“In October 2015, I asked Nama if Ronnie Hanna, along with Frank Cushnahan or Dave Watters ever met with any investment fund personnel? NAMA said: ‘No, Mr Hanna had no such meetings with these individuals.’ That is not true. I know for a fact he did.
“When I said in the Dáil in July 2015, that £7 million of Cerberus’s money had ended up in an Isle of Man bank account, Nama claimed that it was the first they heard of it.
“Cerberus said it was informed by Brown Rudnick in April 2015, about the Law Society of northern Ireland Investigation into Ian Coulter’s conduct regarding the fee Cerberus paid to Tughans, through Brown Rudnick. Is it credible that no one told Nama?
“Well, for the Government’s sake, let me tell you that I’ve met an individual who was asked to look into the same matter in January 2015. On behalf of who? On behalf of Nama.
“The British National Crime Agency knew that all was not well. So, they commenced an investigation. The Security and Exchange in the US knew that all was not well. They, too, started an investigation. They were exercised by the possibility that Cerberus personnel Jon Snow and Dan Quale may have abused their former office. And they were looking at any possible bribing or inducing anyone for gain.
“All the while, NAMA were in denial – ‘everything’s grand, we’re doing a great job’. The Government and Department of Finance, and the Minister for Finance were the cheerleaders.
“Recently, Transparency Ireland stated that Irish people’s perception of corruption rose in 2016, owing to the controversies surrounding NAMA – but it doesn’t stop there. We have received very worrying information through Namaleaks regarding the behaviour of some real estate auctioneer firms,where individuals were looking for cash to be placed into an offshore account before agreeing to sell properties, belonging to Nama and other financial institutions. Some of these individuals are well known and have reached positions of high authority in this country.
“I’ve met a developer who told me that he paid large amounts of cash to an individual, a former employee of Nama, who held a very serious position in Nama, a very serious one. A lot of money has changed hands.
“Back in 2015, I mentioned the payment of €15,000 in a bag, by an individual, to a NAMA employee, to garner favour. Not sure where the Gardai are with their investigation into this, but I can tell you I’m more certain that ever, about what happened – they go their MOU, out the gap and away, and doing very well for themselves now.
“These ‘new kids on the block’, their newfound fortunes are built on the proceeds of crime. One of them is working in the higher echelons of Cerberus, who have been responsible for taking control of small businesses, family farms, and forcing people out of their homes and onto the housing list.
“We must be one of the best little countries in the world, to do business in. What in god’s name is wrong with us that we don’t like the truth? What in god’s name is wrong with us that we don’t want to hold State bodies to account? What’s wrong with us that we don’t want the truth about Nama?
“Is it because it’s too distasteful? Because you won’t like it? Because you’ve stood over what’s happened for the last five or six years? Is that why you don’t want the truth to come out about it?
“Nama is rotten to the core. And you know what? I actually believe that the minister [for finance, Michael Noonan] knows it. I don’t believe for a second that he thinks they’re clean. There’s problems right through the workings of Nama. The dogs on the street know it. Are you going to pretend forever that they’ve done a great job? And lied to the people?
“The people are tired of being lied to. That’s why politics is changing. That’s why the Americans elected an eejit called Trump, cause they were tired of being lied to but he likes of Obama and Clinton and Bush before him. Well, you know what? They’re going to get tired of you lot lying to them as well.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have engaged in deception, in dealing with the people of Ireland and they’re tired of it. You are not going to get away with it forever. The social media has changed things. People are waking up to what you are up to and to how disingenuous you are about how this country is run and how we organise society. This is such a frustrating place, it makes my blood boil.”
Mattie McGrath describes Tipp developer in NAMA going off to Poland during the Crash and “last weekend” say they’ve bought their assets back