Michael Noonan may attend PAC over Nama loan book

Finance Minister Michael Noonan appears set to bow to mounting pressure for him to appear before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry into Nama’s sale of its Northern Ireland loan book.

Mr Noonan is to review an invitation to the PAC, his spokesman has said. Nama is scheduled to appear before the PAC on September 29 and Mr Noonan’s attendance is now being demanded by members of the committee.

The PAC is investigating Nama’s sale of its €1.6bn Northern loan book and there have been calls for Mr Noonan to make himself available to the committee, despite it not being the norm for ministers to go before it.

However, Mr Noonan’s spokesman said he is now to review the invitation before making a decision on whether he will attend.

“It is not normal practice for a minister to appear before the PAC” and “the Department of Finance will co-operate fully with the PAC as the department always does”, the spokesman told the Irish Examiner.

PAC chairman Sean Fleming said he was hopeful Mr Noonan would appear to discuss his role in the sale, which resulted in a major loss to the taxpayer, according to a special report published by the comptroller and auditor general (C&AG) last week. Mr Fleming said he welcomed the decision to review the invitation.

The C&AG report found the sale incurred a potential loss to the state of £190m on the sale after previous write-downs were included. Nama “categorically rejected” the key conclusions reached by the C&AG, saying that the key finding of the report is “fundamentally unsound and unstable and cannot be left unchallenged”.

The Government last week confirmed the PAC would first examine the report into the affair, beginning on September 29 before a formal inquiry is launched. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Noonan should “respond positively” to the request from the PAC to attend.

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