From top: Former Northern Ireland Finance Minister Sammy Wilson and his pick for Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee, Frank Cushnahan
You may recall Nama’s sale of its northern Ireland property portfolio Project Eagle to US investment firm, Cerebrus.
A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General is expected to be published tomorrow and it has been reported that it has found the portfolio may have been undersold to the tune of hundreds of millions because of “shortcomings” and “irregularities” in the sale.
Last week’s BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight programme broadcast a secret audio recording of Frank Cushnahan, then a member of Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee, receiving £40,000 – in bundles of two – from property developer John Miskelly.
Readers may recall that, in 2009, Mr Cushnahan was chosen to sit on Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee by former Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister, from 2009 to 2013, Sammy Wilson.
Further to this, Allison Morris, in the Irish News, reports:
Former finance minister Sammy Wilson said he has “no intention” of watching a BBC Spotlight investigation that aired secret recordings of a man he recommended for the Nama advisory committee taking £40,000 in cash from a property developer.
Mr Wilson was on holiday when the programme aired last week, when allegations of corruption were made against his close friend Frank Cushnahan.
However, speaking to the Irish News on Monday, he said: “I haven’t and I’ve no intention of watching anything Spotlight produce, I think they’re a bunch of biased bigots”.
The three-day 2016 Kennedy Summer School will take place in New Ross, Co Wexford from Thursday, September 8 to Saturday, September 10.
The speakers will include An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD, the former governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan and a number of senior US Presidential campaign strategists and commentators.
“The final event of the Summer School will be a showing of the Oscar winning movie ‘Spotlight’ followed by a panel discussion that will deliberate the implications of the clerical abuse scandal that features in the movie and the similar scandal in Ferns. Included in that panel will be, Kevin Cullen, a Boston Globe Columnist and a member of the Spotlight investigation team.”
From top: Colm O’Gorman and director of Spotlight Tom McCarthy at the Light House Cinema in Dublin last night; Spotlight trailer
Last night director of Oscar-nominated film Spotlight Tom McCarthy held a Q&A at the Light House Cinema in Dublin after the movie was screened.
The film tells the true story of a team of journalists from the Boston Globe and their investigation into the cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the state – prompted by their new editor who has just joined the newspaper.
During the Q&A, New Jersey-born Irish-American Mr McCarthy, who was raised in a Catholic family and who has personal friends who’ve been abused, spoke about the importance of local journalism.
Colm O’Gorman: “That whole point about how sometimes it takes an outsider to come into a space and get us to look at ourselves, I think is something that will resonate here in Ireland, as well, in many ways for us. Because if we look at our own history on this issue, at many times, it’s not that nobody knew that these things were happening, it was almost the silence around them was accepted and acceptable.
And sometimes it takes a figure… to come in and shake things up and ask us to look at things differently. The other thing that the film is, it’s a phenomenal testament to journalism, I’ve read where you’re talked about it being a tribute to long-form journalism. How important was that for you?”
Tom McCarthy: “I think very important, obviously, this story is set in 2001/2002. The [Boston] Globe was still very much at the height of their powers. There was smoke on the horizon that bad times were coming, the internet was sort of biting into their classified revenue, which is very important to a local paper like The Boston Globe… I think specifically in our country there’s a misconception of the state of journalism, that because there’s so much information on the interweb, that we no longer need long-form, legacy journalism.
But, you know, from my experience and research, as legacy journalism, newspapers continue to decline and, you know, the internet sort of takes off. The question is where is all this information coming from. A lot of these sites are aggregate, so where are they aggregating from. It’s in decline, where’s the coal coming from? And the answer is: nowhere. It’s just diminished, there’s fewer reporters, there’s fewer boots on the ground, specifically at a local level. And the more research we did, the more alarming it was about the state of journalism. Clay Shirky who’s done a lot of writing on this, in the States, said to us, it’s a very good time to be in local corruption because, quite honestly, nobody is minding the store.”
BBC Spotlight reporter Jennifer O’Leary meets Paudie McGahon (top), now 40, who says he was abused as a teenager by an IRA member and subjected to a kangaroo court and cover-up similar to the experience faced by Mairia Cahill.
An investigation by BBC NI’s Spotlight [last night] into Sean Quinn’s empire has tracked down the headquarters of a company that controls more than $100m-worth of assets belonging to Irish taxpayers.
[Reporter] Jim Fitzpatrick travelled to Belize on the hunt for a company that has laid claim to the millions.
Mr Quinn went bankrupt in January owing 2.8bn euros to the Anglo Irish Bank.
It hoped to recover around 500m euros through sales of Quinn Group’s international property portfolio
However, the bank, now nationalised and called Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, soon discovered that it had lost control of these valuable assets.
…The programme uncovers documentary evidence in Sweden which demonstrates that Sean Quinn was part of a secret boardroom coup which put him back in charge of the property empire weeks after he had been dismissed from the Quinn Group.
Watch Sean Quinn’s Missing Millions here (you may need this)