The Nama drama dominated the Dáil stage again as the lead actors continued to only spout the parts of the script that paint them in the best light possible.
Wexford TD Mick Wallace has provoked uproar and investigations in recent months with a series of allegations regarding the sale of Nama’s €1.2bn Northern property portfolio which goes by the name of Project Eagle.
Mr Wallace caused shock waves with claims in July that £7m paid in fees from the buyer of the Nama assets, Cerberus, was diverted to an account in the Isle of Man “reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or political party”.
The TD renewed his campaign yesterday with claims a “Nama insider” was responsible for “fixing” it so that Cerberus secured the property deal – an allegation Nama has strongly denied.
This follows a spate of claims by Mr Wallace which have become an almost weekly feature of the Dáil theatre in which he has alleged that he was threatened with being “sorted” because of his comments. “I was summoned to a meeting by a public figure and a message was passed on to me from a leading member of Cerberus Ireland that I was going to get sorted,” he told TDs. This was after he claimed a construction firm was pressed by a Nama official to make two payments of €15,000 each “in a bag” to exit the agency.
Mr Wallace has repeatedly called for an independent commission of inquiry into goings on at Nama, especially the Project Eagle sale of 800 properties which he claims could have included “fixer” payments of up to €45m. Nama insists they have done nothing improper. Mr Kenny insists Mr Wallace should take any concerns to the Public Accounts Committee or the gardaí.
While Mr Wallace has spoken to officers regarding the alleged €15,000 payment, he insists he does not have confidence in the PAC and only an independent probe will get the answers needed.
Mr Wallace now accuses the Taoiseach of being involved in a cover-up, telling the Dáil: “The PAC members admitted they did not have the power or authority to hold Nama to account. A commission of inquiry is the only way the Taoiseach will get the answers we need. The people have not been served well by Nama. It stinks to high heaven and the Taoiseach is involved in a cover-up because he refused to do anything about it.”
So, the two men are locked in a political ping-pong game where Mr Wallace’s demands for an inquiry are rebuffed with Mr Kenny’s demands for the Independent TD to go to the PAC.
And if Mr Wallace did go to the Dáil’s financial watchdog, and it did have the authority to properly investigate Nama and found evidence of any wrongdoing, what then?
The upshot would be an independent probe of the type asked for by Mr Wallace, but one long delayed until after the general election.
Mr Kenny’s refusal to go down that route now, leaves the Dáil stage open for Mr Wallace to throw around allegation after allegation under parliamentary privilege, and in doing so cause serious and sustained damage to Nama’s reputation.
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