Fine Gael think-in: Noonan dismisses Nama probe talk

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has appeared to pour cold water on suggestions a government investigation into the Nama Project Eagle controversy is set to be established, despite concerns taxpayers lost out on hundreds of millions of euro.

He downplayed ongoing calls for a state inquiry to be set up yesterday, saying a still unpublished Comptroller and Auditor General report has not found any sign of illegal activity and that he wants its findings to be examined by a cross-party Dáil group before making any decision on the matter.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin repeated his call for a full investigation into the issue due to the “shocking revelations” in last week’s BBC Spotlight programme which appeared to show former Nama official Frank Cushnahan receive £40,000 from a Co Down developer.

Mr Martin said the C&AG report due before Cabinet tomorrow needed to be made public “immediately”. He said “wider issues” needed to be examined, including why billions of euro worth of properties were sold in “one bundle” for less than their value and what was behind the “political move to accelerate the wind up of Nama” last year.

He mirrored similar calls from Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace and politicians in Northern Ireland by saying a full state investigation is essential to uncover exactly what happened.

However, speaking on the first day of the Fine Gael think-in in Co Kildare, Mr Noonan said he is unlikely to set up a state inquiry immediately as the C&AG report has found no suggestion of illegal activity, and he also wants its findings to be examined by the Public Accounts Committee.

The Project Eagle controversy has received significant attention since it was revealed by Mr Wallace two years ago, and is the subject of investigations in Northern Ireland, Britain and the US.

Leaked conclusions of the C&AG report into the issue claim taxpayers have lost out on hundreds of millions of euro due to the controversy, a suggestion Nama rejects.

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