Enda Kenny has said he will not set up a state inquiry into the Nama controversy unless he is “absolutely convinced” it is necessary because he does not want to waste taxpayers’ money.
The Taoiseach detailed the situation, and ruled out a cross-border investigation for legal reasons, as Cabinet prepares to sign off on and publish a 700-page report into the scandal today.
Speaking on the final day of Fine Gael’s two-day pre-Dáil think-in in Co Kildare, Mr Kenny stressed that despite the public interest in the case, authorities must be “careful” and not negatively impact on ongoing criminal investigations.
He confirmed the Comptroller & Auditor General report into the Project Eagle Nama sale will be published today, but added this does not necessarily mean a state inquiry is now imminent.
Mr Kenny said he would seek a meeting with other party leaders before the Dáil returns in a fortnight before sending the report to the Public Accounts Committee for examination.
Should party leaders and this committee both agree a state inquiry needs to be set up, he said this would be voted on in the Dáil — but ruled out the possibility of a cross-border investigation being established for legal reasons.
“Nama will come in front of the PAC in September. The PAC will have the opportunity to question Nama in respect of matters arising from the C&AG report as they see it. We have to be careful here and not cross lines where there are investigations going on, there are two criminal investigations in Northern Ireland, and Nama themselves have brought a formal complaint to the gardaí.
“When the issue arose quite some time ago of allegations of sexual abuse in safe houses in the Republic by members linked with paramilitary groups, the question of a cross-boarder commission of investigation or tribunal was raised.
“The issue is similar here,” he said, adding while he is “not opposed” to a state inquiry, “I don’t want to commit taxpayers’ money to a hearing unless I was absolutely convinced that such an investigation is necessary.”
Calls for a state inquiry have intensified in recent days after the BBC Spotlight programme broadcast secret video of former Nama official Frank Cushnahan allegedly receiving over £40,000 in cash from a Down developer.
Both reject any suggestion of wrongdoing.
Concerns over Nama’s involvement in the deal, which the C&AG report is believed to say cost taxpayers “hundreds of millions” of euro, have previously been raised by TD Mick Wallace.
A Nama spokesperson last night confirmed the group has contacted the gardaí and the Standards in Public Office commission in relation to Mr Cushnahan. When the C&AG report is released today, Nama will be issuing a “comprehensive” response, which is expected to include its own rationale of the price achieved as part of the Project Eagle sale.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved