Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been urged to publish a detailed independent report into State property body Nama as soon as he is given it next week, amid concerns the document could be shelved until the autumn, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Irish Examiner Political Reporter.
Powerful cross-party Dáil group the Public Accounts Committee said they will demand the move in a formal letter to the senior cabinet member over the coming days as part of ongoing attempts to address unanswered questions involving the organisation.
Speaking during a lengthy meeting on Thursday as the controversy surrounding Nama's multi-billion euro Project Eagle Northern Ireland property portfolio deal continued to dominate the Dáil, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy said he expects to conclude a report into the issue by the middle of next week.
Mr McCarthy, who regularly sits in on PAC meetings due to the State financial issues involved, said he is not at liberty to publish the file and that once it is presented to Mr Noonan it is up to the Finance Minister to decide when the document will be released.
Under questioning, the C&AG added that under existing laws Mr Noonan then "has three months to present the report to the Dáil" and that in previous cases "it has gone to the ninetieth day, I've seen it happen".
Responding to the confirmation yesterday, PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said the "quite considerable amount of time" means the committee must write to Mr Noonan to demand the document be published immediately after it is received.
Supporting the move, which was agreed by PAC members, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said "timing is everything" as there will be little point in discussing Nama-related issues any further with the State body until the findings are known.
News of the impending C&AG report into Project Eagle emerged as speculation continued to circulate over a potential separate State investigation into Nama, despite Government denials.
Reports on Wednesday strongly suggested Taoiseach Enda Kenny had asked to meet Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace over his call for a commission of inquiry to be set up into the multi-billion euro Project Eagle deal and related allegations.
Speaking at an event on Wednesday evening, Mr Kenny flatly rejected the claims, saying they are "utterly speculative" and that "there is no investigation taking place".
However, Mr Wallace told the Irish Examiner hours later he is in discussions with "groups" - believed to be Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin counterpart Gerry Adams and solicitor Aidan Eames - about setting up such an investigation.
“I think there will eventually be an inquiry. This is not going away. NAMA’s position is becoming unsustainable," he said.