The Dáil’s public accounts committee has been told it is expected to sign off on its controversial Project Eagle report today, despite an ongoing battle over references to Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
Committee chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming told colleagues “it is anticipated” the report will be finalised whether there is agreement or not this afternoon as calls continue for a commission of investigation into the multi-billion euro case.
As previously reported by the Irish Examiner, the PAC has been tasked with investigating claims of interference in the €1.6bn sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland loan book in 2014. The sale, which the independent Comptroller and Auditor General last year concluded cost the State €220m, has been mired in difficulties since it occurred due to claims of conflicts of interest, unfair advantages to firms, and interference from politicians on both sides of the border.
In response to last autumn’s C&AG report, the Government last year committed to setting up a commission of investigation once the PAC performed a scoping exercise to prove it is necessary.
However, despite dozens of meetings with those involved over recent months, the PAC’s final report into the controversy has been delayed due to an ongoing row between the Government and opposition TDs over the nature of its findings.
A leaked draft report has confirmed that among the key issues still to be resolved is a finding that Mr Noonan interfered in the sale.
This relates to alleged pressure by the Department of Finance on Nama, and revelations that Mr Noonan met eventual sale winner Cerberus days before the deal was agreed.
However, while this detail is noted on four separate occasions in the draft report and is supported by almost all committee members, four Fine Gael PAC members who make up a minority of the committee remain insistent it should be removed.
It is understood that in a bid to bring the matter to a conclusion, Mr Fleming sent an email to all committee members last night telling them “it is anticipated” the report will be signed off on today.
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