The Government has escaped an embarrassing Dáil vote calling for an inquiry into Nama’s Project Eagle deal, after being saved by a Fianna Fáil amendment.
Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace initially got his private motion in the Dáil passed — it calls for a commission of investigation into the agency’s Northern loan book sale.
But a later amendment by Fianna Fáil, which back Fine Gael in office, saved the day for the minority government after TDs agreed a probe should only happen after police finish their inquiries.
The last-minute change by Fianna Fáil this week has been criticised by Sinn Féin TDs seeking the Nama probe — they claim the party was “bought” by deciding to back down from.
Mr Wallace has called the position of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil “shameful”.
Project Eagle involved a portfolio of 850 properties across Ireland and Britain, based on loans involving borrowers in the North. Nama bought the loans for €2bn but sold them to US investment fund Cerberos for €1.6m — a rate which Mr Wallace claims was “horrifically uncompetitive”.
A UK crime agency has arrested a number of individuals linked with the Nama sale. There have also been accusations of fixers’ fees for millions of euro, a fact which should have put the brakes on the 2014 deal, claims Mr Wallace.
The Government maintains that no investigation is under way and that there are no allegations of wrongdoing against Nama. But the State spending watchdog, the Comptroller & Auditor General, is inquiring into the sale and is set to produce a report in the autumn.
Yesterday’s government amendment of Mr Wallace’s bill was defeated by 81 votes to 58. It had claimed British criminal investigations into Project Eagle “must not be obstructed” by a commission of investigation and that no probe anyway was needed.
While the Government lost this vote, Fianna Fáil went on to pass its amendment in the chamber yesterday, whereby TDs backed the idea to hold off on a probe.
The amendment, proposed by party finance spokesman Michael McGrath, claimed that no action should be taken which would “potentially hamper the criminal investigation into these matters”.
This latter Fianna Fáil countermotion was then carried by 105 Dáil votes to 38, saving an embarrassing situation for the Government.
A spokesman for Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the focus for the Government is still the outcome of the C&AG report.
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