Peter Robinson declines to appear before PAC

Former Northern Ireland first minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson and two witnesses vital to an investigation into the controversial Project Eagle deal have formally refused to face public questioning.

Mr Robinson confirmed the situation in a letter to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), while also saying he was “flatly contradicting” previous claims and accusing Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness of misleading the group.

Since beginning its examination of the Project Eagle deal in response to revelations the sale of Northern Ireland assets held by Nama in 2014 may have cost the Irish taxpayer €190m, the PAC has repeatedly sought to meet Mr Robinson. This is because of the need to explain alleged links with former Nama Northern Ireland advisor Frank Cushnahan, who was due to receive a €5m success fee from one bidder; unexplained meetings with firms, and allegations he kept politicians in the dark over what was happening.

In evidence to the PAC last week, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said Mr Robinson had questions to answer, adding the DUP leader “deliberately excluded” him from these meetings, raising fresh questions over what took place.

After confirming receipt of PAC’s request to attend, having previously said he was unaware of it, Mr Robinson wrote on Wednesday night to the PAC to decline the invitation.

Explaining the situation to the PAC yesterday, group chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said the unpublished letter states Mr Robinson is “flatly contradicting” comments made by Mr McGuinness about whether the Sinn Féin MLA was excluded from Project Eagle discussions.

Meanwhile, ex-Nama official Ronnie Hanna has said he cannot appear due to his “duty of confidentiality” to Nama and ongoing investigations in Northern Ireland. A third individual, David Mizzells — the managing director of unsuccessful Project Eagle bidder Fortress — has also made himself unavailable.

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