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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 29 Jun 2016

Vol. 915 No. 3

National Asset Management Agency: Motion [Private Members]

I move:

That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to establish a Commission of Investigation under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, that would be sufficiently mandated to conduct a full and proper examination of all the facts surrounding the sale, by the National Asset Management Agency, of the Northern Ireland loan book portfolio, Project Eagle; and to establish a deadline for the completion and publication of the report by the Commission of Investigation.

I will share my time with Deputy Clare Daly.

The sale of Project Eagle by NAMA to Cerberus for £1.241 billion was, at the time, the largest ever property deal to take place on the island of Ireland. It was also the first time that NAMA packaged up a loan book to sell in its entirety - 850 loans to be precise. Project Eagle is now under investigation in two different jurisdictions. The Securities and Exchange Commission in America is investigating it and so is the National Crime Agency in Britain. Repeated claims by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, that allegations of wrongdoing have not been directed at NAMA are not true. I have alleged wrongdoing by the two former NAMA employees, Frank Cushnahan and Ronnie Hanna, in their role in the sale of Project Eagle. Both men have now been arrested by the NCA in Northern Ireland. The Minister said last week that all known allegations are being investigated by the appropriate authorities, but I do not agree. Ronnie Hanna worked for NAMA in Dublin as head of asset recovery. He is currently on bail in Northern Ireland on fraud offences relating to Project Eagle. The man who held one of the most powerful positions in NAMA for over four years has been arrested, is on police bail and has to come back to answer further questions. A file has been prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, and this Government has not batted an eyelid. NAMA is ours. Its assets belong to the people and they bear every euro of loss that it incurs. The people pay its salaries. They paid for Frank Cushnahan and Ronnie Hanna's salary. Unfortunately, it appears that others were paying them too. We owe it to the people at least to investigate whether there is any material indication of wrongdoing. Every other country that was tangentially involved in Project Eagle has seen the same indication and has opened an investigation. Only Ireland, to its shame, has not. With every passing day, the Government is losing credibility.

Project Eagle cannot be split into two separate transactions no matter how NAMA attempts to distance itself from the deal. I am hopeful the ongoing investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the NCA will help to shed light on the deal. Neither is investigating the specific role played by NAMA in this deal. NAMA is a sideshow to them because they are only concerned with offences committed in their jurisdictions.

NAMA has repeatedly misled anyone who will listen to it when answering questions on its role in Project Eagle. I will give some examples. I was told by NAMA in response to a written question that Ronnie Hanna, David Watters and Frank Cushnahan never met any prospective purchaser of that portfolio, which is not true. I have had it confirmed by the chief executive of one of the bidders. Frank Daly stated that in his role on the Northern Ireland Advisory Committee, Frank Cushnahan was not involved in any decision-making and did not have access to confidential data. If so, why, after Frank Cushnahan resigned in 2013, did NAMA insist that he confirmed that all his confidential files at Tughans had been destroyed? Brian Rowntree, who was also on the Northern Ireland Advisory Committee, contradicts NAMA on this, stating that it was privy to confidential information. In his reply to NAMA, Frank Cushnahan said, "I am returning herewith as requested the enclosed letter confirming that all documentation has been securely disposed of." What in God's name would he be disposing of if there was nothing to dispose of? Why was he entitled to £5 million if he had no confidential information? It does not stack up.

Frank Cushnahan had confidential information on borrowers. NAMA said he did not have confidential information on the sales process. The sales process was not so relevant but he had enough inside information for it to be worth an awful lot of money. NAMA said the Northern Ireland property market was not looking good in January 2014 and that it believed the best approach was a sale of the entire loan book. I will read some extracts from CBRE, Savills and Lisney. A CBRE report on 28 January 2014 on the Northern Irish commercial property market said of 2013, that:

Last year marked a major turning point for the commercial property market in Northern Ireland with the first tentative signs of recovery emerging in the second half of the year. The most notable trend was an increase in activity in the investment sector as the process of deleveraging kicked off in Northern Ireland in the last six months of 2013. There was strong demand from both institutional and local buyers for the assets that came available for sale.

A Savills report in January 2014 said:

2013 marked the beginning of a new cycle in the Northern Irish market. NI is mirroring the general UK macroeconomic performance which has now returned three consecutive quarters of economic growth.

In a similar vein, Declan Flynn, the managing director of Lisney in Belfast, said, "Our 2013 research has highlighted that Property Investment transactions in Northern Ireland have increased six fold over the last two years." The notion that things were bad is wrong. Things were not wonderful but they had improved dramatically. They say that commercial property only increased in value between 2% and 3% in 2014. That is a real giveaway because it means Cerberus will come close to doubling its money on its purchase. It means they bought very low in the market because it got Project Eagle for nearly half of what it was worth. Why are we not concerned about that? NAMA will continue to get away with all these contradictions and more until an independent commission of investigation, with the ability to demand all the relevant documentary information regardless of commercial sensitivity, is initiated.

Another important question that a commission of investigation would examine is whether the Project Eagle bidding process was competitive. When asked this question, NAMA has always passed the buck and referred back to its sale adviser Lazard, which stated there was sufficient competitive tension between Cerberus and Fortress to continue the bidding process. What evidence was provided at the time to show competitive tension still existed? I have spoken to a senior executive in Fortress who confirmed there was no competitive tension. He said that the lack of tension was horrifically uncompetitive. They were his words. Cerberus bid £1.241 billion. The reserve price was £1.24 billion. Fortress bid £1.1 billion. Let us not get into the argument of whether it knew the reserve price and whether it wanted to get back into the process or not. It was not a competitive tendering process by any stretch of the imagination. It does not stack up. Fortress had to write to the Department of the Taoiseach to gain entry to the sales process. Cerberus met NAMA's head of asset recovery, Ronnie Hanna, the day before the bid was accepted. What was discussed at this meeting? Can we see the minutes? NAMA will not give them to us but a commission of investigation would compel it to reveal the truth. I have requested under freedom of information from NAMA all e-mails and other correspondence between NAMA and Lazard on the sales purchase of Project Eagle. It will be interesting to see if NAMA will release this information or hide behind the excuse of commercial sensitivity. This is information that a commission of investigation could demand. NAMA's legal advisers on the transaction were a London firm, Hogan Lovells, which it paid £1.8 million.

It would be interesting to see all the legal advice given to NAMA by this firm regarding the sale. I wonder if it was aware of the STG£5 million fee for Frank Cushnahan that PIMCO was set to pay and just what did Hogan Lovells do for that STG£1.8 million? It is nice money if one can get it. I have also requested from NAMA, under freedom of information, all e-mails and any other correspondence between NAMA and Hogan Lovells on the sale-purchase of Project Eagle.

The Government has referred to the long-awaited report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on Project Eagle. This report will examine whether NAMA achieved the best possible return for the taxpayer in the sale of Project Eagle. It will not be examining the governance of NAMA in regard to the deal and whether it was executed in a fully legal and transparent manner. It will not be investigating the role played by the former NAMA employees, Frank Cushnahan and Ronnie Hanna.

In a written reply to me on 28 October 2015, NAMA stated that "Ronnie Hanna was a senior executive who joined NAMA in 2010 who acted professionally and diligently during his time at NAMA." This is the same Ronnie Hanna who is currently on bail in Northern Ireland for fraud offences relating to his role in Project Eagle. NAMA threw Frank Cushnahan under the bus when it had no other option but it cannot do the same to a man who held the role of head of asset recovery for four years in the agency.

From figures available it appears there was an enforcement rate of between 7% and 8% against NAMA's borrowers in Northern Ireland compared to a 27% rate for NAMA borrowers in the Republic of Ireland. Why does the Minister think that a NAMA client down South was nearly four times more likely to be foreclosed upon? Why did NAMA treat business people in the Republic of Ireland almost four times less favourably than those in Northern Ireland? Is it possible that Frank Cushnahan or Ronnie Hanna might have had anything to do with that?

The sale and purchase of Project Eagle by NAMA to Cerberus involved some of the biggest players in this country, both North and South as well as the United States, as many of these players have a vested interest in ensuring that a commission of investigation never takes place. Those involved in the deal include Cerberus, PIMCO, Fortress, Brown Rudnick, Tughans, Lazard, Hogan Lovells, A&L Goodbody, Linklaters, the Northern Ireland Law Society, the Northern Ireland Department of Finance, the Office of the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Department of An Taoiseach and the Department of Finance, not to mention the many property developers who were involved in this whole process.

I would like to know why Fianna Fáil changed its mind on seeking a commission of investigation. I find that incredibly interesting. Has some sort of deal has been done with the Government or did some of these large powerful bodies get to it. I would love to know. If this Government refuses to initiate an investigation into Project Eagle, we will never uncover the true role played by NAMA in the sale of Project Eagle. If the Government refuses to initiate an investigation into Project Eagle, how can we be certain that similar loan sales which followed Project Eagle, such as Project Arrow to Cerberus, were conducted in a legal and transparent manner? Unless a commission of investigation is initiated, all work by Ronnie Hanna in his four years of head of asset recovery in NAMA will forever be under scrutiny.

To return to Fianna Fáil, I cannot believe it has changed its position on this matter. Anyone who reads its amendment will see its excuse for not seeking a commission of investigation. It is saying now that it wants all investigations completed before we have one. First, NAMA is not being investigated by anyone at the moment. Second, the National Crime Agency, NCA, in Northern Ireland or the Securities and Exchange Commission in America are in different in jurisdictions. If we had a commission of investigation it would not interfere one iota with theirs.

On 21 October 2015, Deputy Michael McGrath stated: "I am more convinced than ever that a full commission of investigation into Project Eagle is required." He further stated: "The committee [the Committee of Public Accounts] cannot get to the bottom of this issue because they can only go so far. A full statutory commission of investigation with extensive powers is required." He also stated: "The Government is hiding behind the Comptroller and Auditor General's value for money review of Project Eagle, the purpose of which is to ascertain whether the transaction delivered value for money."

I have checked the legal advice side and I am told that all investigations will not be complete for at least three years. Are we going to postpone doing anything about what is going on in Dublin for three years? Is this serving the Irish public and Irish taxpayers properly? There are huge concerns around what is going on? The Minister is not going to make them go away without a commission of investigation. I got legal advice on this and part of it states that the only criminal proceedings that are currently under way are in a different legal and territorial jurisdiction under UK law and deal even with a different subject matter. It also states the investigation of a commission in the Republic would focus on NAMA activity and any failure to act in the public interest of the Republic's citizens and any failure by NAMA to comply with its duties; the extent of involvement and awareness; and any failure in supervision or oversight by the Department of Finance and the Minister for Finance in the Republic. It further states this is a wholly different perspective and subject matter than the focus of the investigation in the North and, as such, is much too far removed to pose any real risk of endangering these criminal proceedings.

The Fianna Fáil amendment to the motion is explicit in this regard and notes that: "NAMA have advised that the UK NCA has confirmed that no aspect of the Agency's activities are under investigation". There is very little risk of an overlap and there are no solid grounds for Fianna Fáil attempting to hide behind this argument as justification for its support of the Government position that no commission of investigation is necessary despite the admission in Fianna Fáil's amendment that there are ongoing and legitimate concerns regarding aspects of the sale by NAMA of the Northern Ireland loan portfolio, Project Eagle.

It stinks to high heaven. I believe 100% that the Minister believes that as well.

I cite the following words:

The allegations made in regard to Project Eagle are so serious and the integrity of the National Asset Management Agency so important that a commission must be established to investigate them.

It is also important that the ongoing investigations in the North are not hampered by their limited scope. Decisions made in Dublin should not escape scrutiny on the basis that...investigations are being carried out in the...[North which] do not have jurisdiction to consider matters which took place South of the Border... It is undoubtedly the case that a commission assessing what took place in this jurisdiction would be of great assistance to the various investigations under way in the North.

Those are the words of Deputy Michael McGrath in moving a similar motion almost six months ago. My God, what a difference an election makes. Let us be very clear here. The arrest of Ronnie Hanna and Frank Cushnahan as part of a criminal investigation into Project Eagle has made the necessity of a commission of investigation more urgent, not less so, because into the heart of this matter now comes the head of asset management in Dublin in this jurisdiction blowing a hole through the arguments of the Minister, those of the Taoiseach and those of NAMA that there has been no allegations of wrongdoing against NAMA. That is not the case.

Two weeks ago Deputy Micheál Martin told the Dáil that the Government's position on NAMA was untenable. Last week here he told Deputy Wallace that Fianna Fáil would be supporting us in this motion and today we are here - why? What deal has been done with Fianna Fáil to save the Government or to save who? Fianna Fáil has absolutely no credibility in this regard any more. In essence, what Fianna Fáil is trying to do here is to say that every jurisdiction with a partial involvement in these issues can have an investigation except the jurisdiction which owns the assets and whose taxpayers are paying the price. I am sorry but that is not good enough.

Project Eagle did not even get the discounted value for which it was transferred. The assets were sold against an improving market, which is evidence that Cerberus has organised to buy back loans at a tidy little profit from them. The Irish State, at the heart of this, is not going to investigate it. Is the Securities and Exchange Commission calling off its investigations because the NCA is investigating? Of course it is not and we should not do so either.

I understand very well why the Minister and the Government has resisted at every turn the idea of a commission of investigation. Of course they would because the Minister was the one who had the power to stop it. Rather than not even stopping it, he chose to insist that it go ahead. It is worth making the point again that weeks before the deal closed, PIMCO told NAMA that £15 million in a fixer's fee was there. NAMA told the Minister and he insisted that the deal would go ahead.

These critical issues about the failure of NAMA to deal with these matters and the extent of the involvement of the Department of Finance and the Minister himself must be questioned. That is even more necessary because of Ronnie Hanna. What did the Minister know, what should he have known and what does he know now? What action did he take? He did not take any. There has not been one single internal investigation in NAMA. The Minister did not report these things to the legal authorities. Now we have a situation where a fourth NAMA employee has been arrested.

The reality is that only a commission of investigation can get to the truth. Not only would it not hamper what is happening in Northern Ireland, it would assist in any potential criminal investigation. It has the wherewithal to generate more evidence which would be of assistance to the DPP. The precedent for that is the Mahon tribunal, evidence to which led to the criminal prosecution of George Redmond. Does the Minister remember the Finlay tribunal on contaminated blood supplies in a previous era? Evidence given to that tribunal led to a Garda investigation and criminal proceedings. The Fianna Fáil fail-safe of trying to hide behind the Comptroller and Auditor General, who performs value for money reviews, is absolutely reprehensible. The parties might think that between the two of them they have the numbers to block today's motion, but a Bill drafted by senior legal people in this town provides for the type of commission of investigation which should be put in place to deal with these matters. The truth will out on this. There is more dirt to come and the Government will not be able to hide behind it. Too many people have been damaged by this. People might think they have the numbers to get away with it today, but it will come back to haunt them and it will be even worse.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:

“notes that:

— the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) Chairman has stated that the NAMA Board is fully satisfied that the Project Eagle sales process delivered the best possible return that could have been achieved for Irish taxpayers;

— it remains the case that no allegations of wrongdoing have been directed at NAMA, despite all the confusion and conflation in the coverage of this matter;

— ongoing investigations, including that being undertaken by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), must not be obstructed or compromised by a Commission of Investigation;

— NAMA have advised that the UK NCA has confirmed that no aspect of the Agency’s activities are under investigation;

— the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) must be afforded the appropriate time and space to complete its Section 9 of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 value for money review into Project Eagle properly and in accordance with due process;

— the Minister for Finance has made relevant documentation held by the Department of Finance relating to Project Eagle publically available to the Committee of Public Accounts and on the Department of Finance website;

— NAMA has made extensive information available to various parliamentary committees including the Dáil Committee of Public Accounts; the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel; all of this information, over 350 pages, is publicly available on the NAMA website and through the transcripts of the relevant committee hearings;

— in the context of all of this documentary evidence and testimony, no specific allegations of wrongdoing appropriate for a Commission of Investigation have emerged;

— the Government will continue to monitor ongoing criminal investigations and will seriously consider any specific allegations of wrongdoing appropriate for a Commission of Investigation should any such allegations be made; and

— NAMA is continuing to progress its mandate to maximise the return to the Irish State, as evidenced in its 2015 Annual Report and Accounts and should not be impeded in its continuing efforts to do so;

and resolves to:

— respect the integrity of the ongoing UK NCA criminal investigation;

— allow the C&AG to complete its work in accordance with due process;

— allow the Committee of Public Accounts to exercise its oversight; and

— call for any criminal allegations and evidence to be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.”

If we cast our minds back to late 2009 when my predecessor, the late Brian Lenihan, was proposing the establishment of NAMA, we will remember that it was a time of great uncertainty. It is no secret that I, among many others, had doubts about the prospects of a National Asset Management Agency. However, it must be said the Government of the day took early and decisive action in setting up NAMA. The NAMA Act rightly established a high degree of public accountability for NAMA and established an independent board to implement NAMA's commercial mandate. Indeed, a number of NAMA board members first appointed in late 2009, including the chairman and CEO, continue to progress diligently NAMA's commercial mandate to this day. In addition, long-serving members of the House will recall that the then Minister, Mr. Brian Lenihan, agreed to the establishment of NAMA's Northern Ireland advisory committee under section 33 of the NAMA Act following discussions with his counterpart in Northern Ireland, Mr. Sammy Wilson. The board of NAMA appointed a person from Northern Ireland to the advisory committee who had been recommended by Mr. Wilson to Mr. Lenihan. It should be remembered, however, that the Northern Ireland advisory committee had no decision-making powers and no access to confidential information. Given the cross-Border interests at stake, it was appropriate for NAMA to establish a non-decision making committee to advise the board in relation to Northern Ireland matters in the context of NAMA's objectives.

I am pleased to acknowledge that NAMA has proven to be one of the great successes of our recovery as underpinned by the well-crafted NAMA Act. The key provisions in the NAMA Act ensure the commercial independence of NAMA, establish its accountability to the Oireachtas and provide for the legal accountability of NAMA employees. In accordance with section 10 of the NAMA Act, NAMA is obliged to pursue a commercial mandate and to achieve, expeditiously, the best financial return for the Irish taxpayer. It is against this mandate that NAMA's activities must be assessed. In that regard, the redemption of €1 billion of senior bonds last Wednesday, 22 June, means that NAMA has just €4.6 billion, or 15%, of senior debt to repay of the original €30.2 billion issued. This progress continues to contribute to the creditworthiness of the sovereign in eliminating the guarantee of NAMA's senior debt as a contingent liability for the State. It is very encouraging to see that the NAMA board now predicts a potential surplus of up to €2.3 billion which will return to the State when it completes its work. On the strong foundation of the NAMA Act and with the great efforts of NAMA management and staff, NAMA has moved from being a potential liability to an almost certain asset to the State.

Members of the House will also know that under the NAMA Act, the Committee of Public Accounts has the power to examine NAMA's annual accounts which are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and to call on the NAMA chairman and CEO to give evidence whenever required on various matters, including the annual accounts and any special reports the Comptroller and Auditor General publishes. The established oversight of NAMA provided by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Committee of Public Accounts highlights how independent bodies of the State operate in line with legislation in the best interests of the Irish taxpayer. In addition, we also know that, when necessary, criminal charges and convictions can be and have been meaningfully pursued under the NAMA Act. It is clear to me that the NAMA Act established the appropriate mechanisms to hold NAMA and NAMA staff accountable in respect of their legislative mandate. We should allow those mechanisms to function.

There has been much coverage of various aspects of NAMA's sale of its Northern Ireland loan portfolio. The allegations of wrongdoing that have been made and that are being criminally investigated are extremely concerning. We support each of these investigations and stand ready to assist in any way that is helpful. I have already made relevant documentation held by the Department of Finance relating to Project Eagle publically available to the PAC and the Northern Ireland finance committee. The documentation is also on the Department of Finance website. NAMA has made extensive information available to various parliamentary committees including the Dáil's Committee of Public Accounts, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and the Northern Ireland Committee for Finance and Personnel. All of this information, which stands at over 350 pages, is publicly available on the NAMA and committee websites. As such, it is notable that even with all of this material available in the public domain, the calls for a commission of investigation into Project Eagle have not identified any specific concerns that such a commission could appropriately investigate. I encourage the signatories of the current motion to review thoroughly these materials as this may help them to articulate a more informed and coherent position. We had a repeat of the allegations today by Deputy Wallace. If he is so sure of the veracity of these allegations, he does not need the cover of privilege to make them. If he is so sure of his grounds, he should make them outside the House. Deputy Clare Daly has a peculiar attitude to commissions of investigation, seeing them as trawling instruments which may come up with something after which proceedings would follow. I remember reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and it was either the Mad Hatter or the Dormouse who said "Verdict first, trial afterwards". That is the sort of due process being advocated in the House by people who make allegations under privilege which they do not substantiate or make in public without the cloak of privilege to protect them.

As everybody knows, there are a number of inquiries or investigations into Project Eagle. The most notable ongoing investigation is the UK National Crime Agency's criminal investigation. It has been inferred by some that arrests associated with this investigation imply wrongdoing on the part of NAMA. On the contrary, NAMA advises that the NCA has confirmed that no aspect of its activities are under investigation. It is the role of An Garda Síochána to determine if there are grounds for a criminal investigation in this jurisdiction. To my knowledge, no such investigation is being pursued by gardaí. Anyone who believes he or she has information which would justify a criminal investigation should bring that information to the gardaí and allow them to do their job. We also are aware that the Comptroller and Auditor General has undertaken a section 9 value-for-money review of Project Eagle and intends to issue its report once completed. This review is consistent with the Comptroller and Auditor General's power to investigate, scrutinise and report on concerns regarding any aspect of NAMA's work which may arise through its annual audits or special reports on any aspect of the agency's work. I am sure that, following the Comptroller and Auditor General publication of this review, the newly appointed Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts will invite the NAMA CEO and chairman to discuss the Comptroller's opinions.

It is, after all, that committee's mandate to ensure that NAMA operates in line with its legislative objectives, and the committee is well equipped to do so.

Therefore, taking into account the investigations that are under way, it is my view that there is no specific line of inquiry that could be usefully pursued by a commission of investigation. The appropriate investigations are already taking place in the appropriate jurisdictions. It is unwise to launch a costly commission of investigation on claims that are under investigation by the appropriate authorities. If specific allegations of wrong-doing are not being investigated, make them known to the relevant authority in the appropriate jurisdiction, be that the National Crime Agency, NCA, the Garda or the PSNI. If there are specific allegations of wrong-doing that are appropriate to a commission of investigation, make them known to this House.

In the absence of such specific allegations, I call on the Dáil to support the proposed counter-motion and allow all of the appropriate authorities the time and space required to complete their work.

Next is Deputy Michael McGrath, who is sharing time with Deputies Sean Fleming and MacSharry.

I will take ten minutes and they will take five minutes each, if that is acceptable.

I wish to move amendment No. 2.

The Deputy cannot move the amendment just yet, but we can discuss it now.

That is fine.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute on this motion. I commend Deputy Wallace on his tenacity and dogged pursuit of this issue. It is fair to say that these matters would not have been subject to the ongoing investigations and scrutiny were it not for his interventions and comments in the House and elsewhere.

There can be no doubt that the allegations surrounding the sale of NAMA's Northern Ireland loan book are of an extremely serious nature. When public money is at stake, we have a duty to act and protect the public interest. Fianna Fáil has been consistent in demanding that all aspects of the Project Eagle sale be thoroughly examined and investigated. Last October, I moved a motion on behalf of Fianna Fáil calling for a commission of investigation under the terms of the 2004 Act on the basis that the allegations were of such a serious nature that the public would demand nothing less than a comprehensive inquiry to get to the truth and make clear findings in respect of any wrong-doing on the part of individuals. I stated clearly that any suggestion that the taxpayers did not receive the return they deserved must be thoroughly investigated, as should any allegation of improper conduct in the sale. There is a risk that a question mark will always hang over this transaction and NAMA as a whole for as long as there remain outstanding questions that have not been adequately investigated.

In its evidence to the Committee of Public Accounts and its public commentary on Project Eagle, NAMA has argued consistently that no issue has arisen regarding the sales side of the transaction. As I stated last October, however, that is not an adequate answer. Ultimately, the decision to proceed with the sale of Project Eagle was made by NAMA in Dublin and NAMA must account for the entirety of that transaction.

Based on the information and allegations in the public domain surrounding Project Eagle, a commission of investigation is warranted. That remains the Fianna Fáil view. The question is whether a commission would stand any chance of success running in parallel with a criminal investigation that is gathering pace. Our honest assessment is that a commission of investigation established in the Republic in the heat of an accelerating criminal investigation in the North would most likely run into the sand quickly. This would serve no purpose. Do we really believe that key people involved in this transaction and living in Northern Ireland would voluntarily co-operate with a commission of investigation in the Republic while arrests were being made in the North?

Almost a year ago, the UK's NCA commenced an investigation into Project Eagle. For a long time, there were no updates. Then, just last month, two arrests were made in Northern Ireland. The persons concerned have already been named in this House as Mr. Frank Cushnahan, a former member of the NAMA Northern Ireland advisory committee, and Mr. Ronnie Hanna, who was head of asset recovery at NAMA during the Project Eagle sale. Reports indicate that this represents a significant change of pace in the investigation. Both men are, of course, entitled to the presumption of innocence. It is not known if further arrests are planned, but let there be no doubt about it, the arrests represented a significant development and followed searches in County Down. The men concerned have been released on bail as part of a fraud investigation. These are the facts that we know. These developments only serve to confirm the grave concerns that many of us have expressed about Project Eagle.

Concerns are one thing but the task of the NCA is to establish whether crimes were committed. None of us in the House is privy to the details of where the criminal investigation is at currently. However, we can only assume that, given recent developments, it is at a sensitive stage. It would be a breach of public trust were the House to engage in anything at this point that would hinder or otherwise limit the work that is being undertaken by the NCA.

I assure Deputy Wallace that there is no deal between Fianna Fáil and the Government, that we have not been "got to" by any powerful agency or authority in this State or any other. Our amendment is based on our honest assessment that a commission of investigation at this time would run into the sand quickly, as has the Cregan commission, albeit in this case because arrests have been made in Northern Ireland and a criminal investigation is presumably at an advanced stage. We have not changed our view on the importance of getting to the bottom of this matter. In fact, all the information that has come to light since then has confirmed our view that fundamental questions remain to be answered.

What influence did NAMA's Northern Ireland advisory committee have on NAMA's decision to offer the Project Eagle portfolio for sale at a time when PIMCO wanted to buy it, initially on an off-market basis? Did the board of NAMA decide it was a good time to sell the portfolio because of the intense interest of PIMCO? What influence did Mr. Cushnahan, as a member of the advisory committee until November 2013, have on that decision? While on the committee, was Mr. Cushnahan privy to a detailed discussion of Project Eagle on 7 October 2013? Did he have access to any other confidential or sensitive information about Project Eagle? When exactly did he become engaged with PIMCO? How extensive was the overlap in time, if any, between his involvement with PIMCO and his role as an adviser to NAMA?

What information, if any, was given to PIMCO? Did Mr. Cushnahan give any advice to Cerberus, given that Cerberus engaged Brown Rudnick, or did Brown Rudnick already have information that it could provide to Cerberus? Why did NAMA permit Cerberus to use the services of Brown Rudnick and Tughans when the reason PIMCO was ejected from the process was that part of Brown Rudnick's fees were to be paid to Mr. Cushnahan? Why was £7 million from Cerberus diverted into an offshore account in the Isle of Man and for whom was the money ultimately destined? Is there any substance to the extraordinary allegation made in this Chamber by Deputy Wallace that some £45 million was to be paid in so-called fixer fees? Any of the allegations, if proven, would cause irreparable damage not just to NAMA, but to the State.

Fianna Fáil is tabling an amendment to the motion. Our position is clear. Based on what is currently in the public domain, we believe that a full commission of investigation is necessary, but that the decision to establish one should not be made until the criminal investigation has been completed. We did not say to wait until any Comptroller and Auditor General or Committee of Public Accounts review had been completed. We referred to the criminal investigation.

While the work done by the Stormont finance committee was well intentioned, it failed to come to definitive conclusions. It made an important finding to the effect that the decision by NAMA not to suspend the sales process when it was informed in 2014 about related proposed fee arrangements with Brown Rudnick and to a former external member of NAMA's Northern Ireland advisory committee was of serious concern. Recently, Ms Claire Hanna, MLA and Deputy Chairperson of the Stormont finance committee, stated:

Despite months of investigation, the full facts around various property deals undertaken by NAMA and the involvement of certain individuals has not become clear. I will be ensuring that the Finance Committee reopens its investigation into the Project Eagle deal.

This demonstrates the complexity of the issues under investigation.

The 2004 Act under which a commission of investigation would be established can only compel Irish citizens to attend.

It is highly unlikely that it would enjoy full co-operation from citizens outside the jurisdiction in the heat of an ongoing criminal investigation. The Stormont finance committee listed 18 witnesses whose evidence would need to be heard if the inquiry was to be successful in getting at the truth. It is difficult to see a commission in the Republic being successful in persuading many of these individuals to attend.

There is already one commission of investigation set up in the State to inquire into serious financial matters arising from the banking collapse, namely, the Cregan commission, which is investigating loan write-offs at IBRC. We strongly supported the establishment of that commission and still believe it was the right thing to do, given the intense controversy that surrounded the Siteserv transaction, in particular. However, it has got nowhere so far. It is my firm belief the public wants to find out the truth about what happened in Project Eagle. If criminal wrongdoing has taken place, the public wants those responsible to be held to account before the courts. I look forward to the Committee of Public Accounts, chaired by Deputy Sean Fleming, reviewing the section 9 value for money review of Project Eagle being carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General. These are important steps in achieving full public accountability.

When all is said and done, there is a very strong likelihood that a commission of investigation will be needed and we will not shirk from tabling or supporting a motion calling for this to happen when the time is right. This needs to be done when it has the best possible chance of succeeding. Deputy Mick Wallace, in elaborating on his motion, said it would deal only with issues within the Republic. He spoke about governance issues within NAMA, the approval process, the Department of Finance and the Minister for Finance, but none of that is clear in the motion tabled by him which refers to "all the facts surrounding the sale". If the Deputy has a more focused, specific proposal in mind for an investigation concerning Project Eagle that would not in any way hinder or contravene the work being done in Northern Ireland, he should table it.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to the motion. I support my colleague Deputy Michael McGrath on the amendment we are tabling.

Let us stand back and consider the global picture. NAMA's sale of loans with a face value of €5.4 billion, linked with the Northern Ireland borrowers in April 2014, was the biggest sale since the agency was established in 2009. That is one of the reasons I want to examine this issue. It was known as Project Eagle. NAMA had paid €2 billion originally for the loans from the various banks and, by the time they were sold, they had an impairment charge which resulted in a price of €1.6 billion being received by NAMA and ultimately the Irish taxpayer. The US capital management company bought the portfolio of loans, secured on 850 properties in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and England. They were not all located in Northern Ireland. It is important that people fully appreciate this. The loans were based on the connection with 55 Northern Ireland-based borrowers and all put together based on the borrowers’ connections. The portfolio included properties outside the Six Counties.

When I consider the sum of €5.4 billion, I note there was already a discount of 63% on the loan book to be taken over by NAMA. That was a phenomenal discount, far bigger than that available across other banks and categories of borrowers who had their loans transferred to NAMA. By the time the loan book was ultimately sold for €1.6 billion, it represented a loss on the original value of €3.8 billion, it being a loss to the Irish taxpayer who secured only 30% of the loan book value, an incredibly small amount. One of the reasons for that is that NAMA has a habit of dealing with borrowers rather than based on the locations of their properties or the individual banks from which the loans were advanced. We will ask NAMA in due course to spell out the breakdown of the loans and the amounts received for the particular banks that provided the loans in the first place, in respect of which the Irish taxpayer must meet the shortfall.

I was recently appointed Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts. In the autumn we will be dealing with the fact that there was ultimately just one real substantial bidder left at the end of the process. One must ask whether it was right to proceed with only one substantial bidder. Should someone have called a halt to the sale at that stage? That is a big issue. Many people have other issues concerning the money available from the purchasers’ side. NAMA is adamant there is nothing criminally wrong on its side of the sale. There are, however, two sides to this equation and we must distinguish between them.

The Controller and Auditor General is producing a special report - a value for money report – which will be going to the Minister in the next month or so. He will be entitled to sit on that report for three months, but I ask him to ensure it will be made available before the Dáil reconvenes in September in order that we can deal with this issue immediately. I do not want it to be held over until October, the week of the budget, at which time it will be lost. We must be very careful. The Minister has the authority to issue the report the day after NAMA presents it to him. I do not want him to take the full 90 days he is statutorily allowed to take. He has said NAMA has ultimately become an asset for the State, but it is clear that everything connected with it in the Six Counties ended up comprising a major liability to the Irish taxpayer. We must ask ourselves why the entire Northern Ireland loan book was sold in one lot and why it became the sole major liability of the NAMA project, given that the Minister has acknowledged that the agency is expected to return a surplus and, ultimately, be a major asset for the State.

As Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, I look forward to receiving the report. We will conduct a very thorough examination of the NAMA project and Project Eagle and all of the questions being asked in the Chamber will be asked in public at meetings of the committee. If we have to consult colleagues in the Northern Ireland Assembly to work collectively, I will be open to this. Whether the questions are being put in the North or here, all of the answers must be provided in some democratic forum.

I am glad to have an opportunity to make a few points. I thank Deputy Clare Daly for bringing forward the motion and hope some of the points made in it can be taken on board. Obviously, I will be supporting the amendment, to which I will come back.

Clearly, it is in all our interests that NAMA is successful and ultimately make a profit for the people of the State. When I was Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson in the Seanad at the time of its establishment, we spent some 70 hours going through the legislation. We all expressed a heartfelt wish that the agency would undertake its work in a way that would be in the best interests of the people. I remember saying clearly in the closing address on the legislation that it would not surprise me if there was an NAMA (No. 2) Bill or a NAMA (No. 3) Bill on the basis that, as matters evolved, we might realise certain things needed to be done differently.

Looking back from a personal perspective, it would have been wise to have had some statutory Oireachtas oversight of the work of NAMA. While there is inevitably commercially sensitive information, as we saw at the recent banking inquiry, in respect of which legislation was passed to give the members thereof access to sensitive materials from the Central Bank that were protected under Article 33AK of the Central Bank Act, we were able to see such material and undertake our work. We are obviously bound to keep that information secret in the interests of the State. Something similar could have been done in the case of NAMA and, with the benefit of hindsight, such an approach would have served us better and been in the best interests of the good efforts of the people working in and running NAMA. In their work, they are entitled to be exonerated if, in the fullness of time, it emerges there has been no wrongdoing. We all want to see the best outcome possible.

In recent times I tabled 26 parliamentary questions specifically about leaks concerning the NAMA portfolio, as the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, will know. It is assumed in the media and other circles that, following the recent conviction, some leaks occurred. My information, which I outlined in the House and raised in parliamentary questions, is that all of information on the entire loan book and on values and connections concerning the loans was leaked and available to international market investors and some in Ireland who might have been interested in bidding. Ultimately, this could have served to undermine the return or the potential to maximise the return for the people from NAMA. Having been involved in auctioneering, I realise that if I know the value, the expected return and that what will one get is €100, I will not bid much more than €100.50. Therefore, I have concerns about the implications.

In the responses to the 26 questions I tabled, the elephant in the room was ignored. The Minister, or the information that was probably coming back through NAMA, did not state "only part" or "some" of the information had been leaked. My information is that all of it was leaked. I certainly hope the Committee of Public Accounts will be pursuing this issue. I understand there are further revelations coming down the track on these issues which we will have to consider closely.

Project Eagle and other deals about which we may be hearing anecdotally throughout the country, perhaps at a much smaller level, give rise to questions.

There are questions arising. Members of the public are entitled to know they have had the maximum possible return for the eight years of painful sacrifice they have endured.

There are also a few allegations - perhaps loose - flying around about political interventions at the highest level in favour of borrower connections or part of those connections in the National Asset Management Agency. Perhaps this has been to the detriment of others or perhaps none of it is true, but the fact that allegations are being made is of great concern. In law, under the NAMA Acts, it is a criminal offence for a politician to use his or her influence in any way to benefit a connection - a borrower - in NAMA.

Another issue I raise, one which is not directly related to NAMA, also needs to be examined by the Committee of Public Accounts or the House. Anybody who read the accounts of Mars Capital recently will have seen that the company paid IBRC 42% of the loan value for the old Irish Nationwide Building Society loan book. At some stage, we need to focus people on our work in these Houses. The loan book was sold for €154 million or 42% of its value. If we had contacted the individuals who owned these loans, they may have had family members or access to credit unions or others who may have purchased the loans at 60% of their value. In such circumstances, the borrowers may have got out alive. We did not serve people well if that is the case and the Committee of Public Accounts could also examine that issue.

On the Fianna Fáil Party amendment, we do not want to undermine a criminal investigation. People are entitled to their pound of flesh, particularly if they have been undermined in this way. Let us see what the Comptroller and Auditor General has to say in his report and what the Committee of Public Accounts decides when it goes through that report when the time comes. While I agree that, in ideal circumstances, we would like to have the criminal investigation completed first, it is possible that the investigation could take three years to complete. In the interests of the public, we should keep this matter under review. Perhaps we should review it after the Committee of Public Accounts has gone through the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

While I do not disagree with the good efforts of Deputy Clare Daly, we should give this matter a little time. After we examine the Comptroller and Auditor General's report, we could perhaps review the matter at that stage.

Táim buíoch as ucht an deis labhairt ar an rún atá os comhair na Dála um thráthnóna agus mo thacaíocht a thabhairt dó. Ba mhaith liom mo chuid buíochais a ghabháil le Deputy Wallace as ucht an rúin a chur faoi bhráid na Dála.

For years now, Sinn Féin has been raising concerns about the sale of the National Asset Management Agency's loan books, particularly the sale and purchase process of its Northern loan book, project evil. That was a Freudian slip; I should have said Project Eagle. Three times in the past three weeks, I have called for the establishment of a commission of investigation into Project Eagle and I am glad to see a motion to that effect before the Dáil this afternoon.

The sale and purchase process of Project Eagle is the subject of serious allegations, yet the Taoiseach and his Ministers have repeatedly dodged the issue. Between May 2010 and November 2013, a member of NAMA’s Northern advisory committee is alleged to have been charging clients fees for advice relating to NAMA. It is also alleged that the same individual had an unethical working relationship with a senior NAMA executive, which gave him access to sensitive commercial information. It is further alleged he was lobbying on behalf of fee-paying clients to reduce loan repayments. In return, he would secure cash payments - so called fixer fees - which were shared with the senior NAMA executive.

When NAMA decided to sell its Northern loan book to a US vulture fund, Cerberus, the individual involved offered to disclose information relating to the value of the loans to a bidder called PIMCO. PIMCO discovered that payment of a fixer's fee of £15 million was requested and was to be paid if its bid was successful. PIMCO reported this to NAMA and withdrew from the process. NAMA's chairman, Mr. Frank Daly stated he briefed the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, in full on these matters, including on the payment of fixer's fees, which are totally irregular and illegal. The Minister accepted this but failed to suspend the Project Eagle sale process or inform the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. As he has never given an explanation, it remains unclear why he did not intervene by exercising his general powers of direction over NAMA to suspend the sales process until these matters were fully investigated. These are serious allegations of financial corruption and insider trading.

Investigations are ongoing in the North by the National Crime Agency, the Law Society and revenue and an Assembly inquiry found the Government’s approach very unhelpful. Other investigations are ongoing in the United States by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI and other authorities. This matter is being investigated everywhere except in this State where no investigation is taking place. The Taoiseach has continuously rejected this request. We must ask why the Government is stonewalling this simple and straightforward request.

I understand Mr. John Miskelly began legal proceedings over the deal against Cerberus and Anglo Irish Bank on 21 June in the Belfast High Court. Members will recall that Mr. Miskelly appeared in the BBC "Spotlight" programme which brought some of the details of this case to light. He is alleging the Project Eagle process was fraudulent from the start. It is high time that the Minister for Finance made a full statement on all of these matters and I am disappointed he did not take the opportunity to do so today.

The National Asset Management Agency has been handling billions of euro of the people's money and it should be accountable. The Fianna Fáil Party agreed with our position on this matter. In October, the party's finance spokesperson, Deputy Michael McGrath, stated: "There is simply no room whatsoever for any question marks when we talk about the sale of a State asset with a face value of over €5 billion". He went on to say: "It is also essential for the integrity of the House that a commission of investigation is established to find out the truth about the entirety of Project Eagle". What has changed?

Just two weeks ago, the Fianna Fáil leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, described the Government’s position on Project Eagle as untenable, yet despite a number of requests directly from me, his party will not now support the establishment of an investigation. The reason it gives for its position on this issue is entirely spurious and can only be explained by a desire to keep the Fine Gael Party in power. Its amendment is yet another Fianna Fáil U-turn to take pressure off its Fine Gael partners and deny the Dáil its right to hold the Government to account. This is entirely in keeping with the party's repositioning on water charges, bin charges, the national monument in Moore Street, rent certainty and returning Deputy Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. Smile they may, but I appeal to Fianna Fáil Deputies to reconsider their amendment and vote in support of the motion.

Let us remind ourselves that this controversy directly affects every citizen and taxpayer in the State. Everybody has a stake in NAMA, for better or worse, yet the Government in this state cannot even be bothered to properly investigate allegations of the most serious nature concerning the sale of one of NAMA's major loan books.

When the Assembly finance committee examined this issue it stated:

Whilst it is does not fall to this Committee to pursue, given the seriousness of the revelation by PIMCO, it is unclear why the Irish Government’s Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, did not intervene at this point, by exercising his general powers of direction over NAMA to suspend the sales process until matters were investigated fully. The Committee also notes that Minister Noonan did not inform the Northern Ireland Executive of this development. In addition, the Committee regrets that Minister Noonan did not encourage NAMA to attend an oral hearing of the Committee.

What the committee and people in this jurisdiction do not understand is why the Minister for Finance would attempt to live in blissful ignorance about this issue. This must stop; the issue has become far too serious for such feigned ignorance.

The mere mention of fixer’s fees and backroom deals in 2014 in a telephone call from NAMA to the Minister for Finance should have had the Minister pulling the plug on this process. Instead, NAMA was allowed carry on as usual. Nobody shouted "Stop" and the controversy continued with arrests and further investigations, but the Government would not even commission an investigation into the matter. When I persuaded the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, which was chaired at that time by a Fine Gael Deputy, to write to the Minister for Finance asking him to direct NAMA to appear before the committee in the Assembly, the Minister ignored the directions and views of the committee.

The motion before us is clear. It proposes to set up a commission of investigation, this time do its job properly unlike in the case of the IBRC mess.

The counter-motions are equally clear. Fine Gael tells us there is nothing to see here. Fianna Fáil tells us there is nothing to see here. I know which side Sinn Féin is on. We are proud to sponsor and support the motion. We have consistently raised the need for a commission of investigation. Indeed, within days of the sale of Project Eagle, I was raising questions on the sale with the Minister for Finance. Despite his knowing all the information about fixers' fees and so on, he led the Dáil to believe there was nothing to see here.

Fianna Fáil's latest attempt at two-faced politics is utterly transparent and typical of its approach to politics. Literally 15 days ago, Deputy Micheál Martin stood up in the Chamber and said that the Government's position on the sale of Project Eagle by NAMA was becoming more untenable by the day. He said that the sales process, whether we liked it and whether NAMA liked it, was not robust or competitive and did not secure the best outcome. He went on to say there were major ethical questions over the entire sale of the asset. He asked whether it ever occurred to the Taoiseach that we should set up a commission of investigation given that the UK National Crime Agency, the US Securities and Exchange Commission and others were pursuing it. That was the position of Fianna Fáil 15 days ago. The position of Fianna Fáil in October was to call for a commission of investigation to be established. However, when push comes to shove, Fianna Fáil retreats into the establishment. It is afraid to look into issues but happy to look angry about them for a few cheap headlines.

Deputy Michael McGrath referred to how we had to ensure the criminal investigation was not affected. That is a great line from the spin doctors of Fianna Fáil. The line is that we now have criminal investigations and that a commission of investigation is not warranted but Fianna Fáil is not doing a U-turn. The reason none of that adds up is the UK National Crime Agency, the agency conducting the criminal investigation, announced in a press release to the world on 9 July 2015 that after receiving requests from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, it was instigating a criminal investigation into the issues surrounding the sale of Project Eagle. That was on 9 July 2015. In October 2015 Deputy Michael McGrath said it was imperative that the Dáil-----


However, the criminal investigation was ongoing.


Deputy Michael McGrath had no problem looking for a commission of inquiry with full knowledge that the PSNI had requested a criminal investigation-----

Will the Deputy, please, address the Chair?

-----and that the National Crime Agency had announced that it was beginning with a criminal investigation.

The Deputy had no problem at that stage looking for a commission of investigation.

The Deputy's time is up.

There are serious questions. What was the fixers' fee? What was the arrangement that has made Fianna Fáil sell out from a position it had so strongly and rightly articulated?

What is the Deputy saying?

I am not saying that it was cash, but what was the arrangement that Fianna Fáil entered into with Fine Gael that made Fianna Fáil sell out on its principles?

What is the Deputy saying?

Will the Deputy tell us why Fianna Fáil sold out?

Why did Fianna Fáil announce such a major U-turn on this issue given its stated position?

The Deputy is throwing dirt.

No, I am not. Will the Deputy explain it to the Dáil?

The Deputy has mentioned this in the context of fixers' fees.

I will suspend the sitting. Gentleman, you can have it outside this forum, please.


Will Deputy Pearse Doherty, please, resume his seat?

He is throwing dirt.

You are not acting like gentlemen. You can do this outside the Chamber.

I am sharing my time with Deputy Mick Barry. I will try to behave like a gentleman on a very ungentlemanly subject. I welcome the Bill proposed by Independents4Change. Deputy Mick Wallace is doing the State and the people a great service by highlighting this scandal. Much has been said about his Bill.

First, I wish to comment on the Government's amendment, which is utterly outrageous. Clearly, the Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan, was to see no evil and hear no evil. He simply wants to park it all and put it to one side. Best of all is the Fianna Fáil amendment, which is all about suspending and putting back any idea that we can do anything in this House. This is exactly how that party has acted in the case of issues relating to water and bin charges as well as the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment, with its proposed committee. It is acting in the same way with the Equal Status (Admission to Schools) Bill. The Fianna Fáil amendment on the NAMA issue is all about suspension, putting it back and not dealing with it. It is outrageous.

I will make a wider argument about why this is not simply about Project Eagle but the entire raison d'être of NAMA. NAMA's actions are far from the things stated in its brief, that is to say, to facilitate credit and protect the interests of taxpayers and contribute to the social and economic development of the State. In fact, it has done much of the opposite. It has facilitated the vulture funds that have bought up tranches of property in the country for a song, sometimes in corrupt circumstances. It has facilitated giant global property equity fears and the development of real estate investment trusts, entities involved in not paying tax and buying up vast tranches of property at a song. Therefore, NAMA is protecting certain developers and bankers. NAMA has done nothing under its remit to contribute to a social role. It has done nothing other than contribute to the deepening housing crisis.

The scale of the housing crisis, with 140,000 citizens in need of a house and on waiting lists, has been worsened by the actions of NAMA instead of contributing to mitigating it. NAMA is funding developers. The developers NAMA has helped are now concentrating on building luxury homes with the help of NAMA funds in places like Howth hill, where no ordinary person could ever dream of affording a property. NAMA has made funding available from bankrupt developers at the higher end of the market. NAMA might point to the Trojan work it has done in supplying social housing for availability to local authorities. Having been on a local authority for seven years, however, it is clear to me that in reality much of what was offered was totally unsuitable for social housing. This helps to explain the low take-up of same. Now, in the Dublin docklands, NAMA is facilitating a building boom in office space and the continued gentrification of prime areas, even as the State lumbers through the greatest housing crisis and emergency in its history.

While NAMA claims that all sales are done in the open market through competitive bidding, this motion shows that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, as Shakespeare might have said. There is an incestuous relationship between the firms and many of those involved in the hedge funds and vulture funds. Far from tax avoidance being an unseen outcome, it is explicit in the attempts of the Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan, to put this to one side.

I put forward a bill to change the NAMA remit to include a social housing role but it was ruled out of order by the House. I am seeking an explanation for that, but that Bill would have ensured NAMA played a clear role in the provision of social housing rather than providing for these developers.

Does the discount obtained by Cerberus for the 850 properties and the murky circumstances around the £6 million success fee require an investigation? It does, absolutely. However, there is a bigger picture in the sense of how NAMA has operated. By the time it concludes its business, a total of 772 developers will have received write-downs amounting to a staggering €40 billion. We do not know how much of a write-down each of these developers received nor do we know if any other transactions involved illicit success fees. This should be the subject of investigation. We know that less than five of the 772 developers have paid all their debts to date.

The contrast between the treatment they received relative to the thousands who have fallen into difficulties with mortgages is so stark it does not require much elaboration. I offer one example. One of the biggest developers to have exited NAMA, Michael O'Flynn, reportedly had €1.8 billion in loans sold on by NAMA to Blackstone, a vulture fund, for €1.1 billion. This left a €700 million loss to the State. That is more than the entire budget for public capital expenditure on housing in 2014-15. Another example is the Anglo-Irish Bank maple ten developer, Sean Reilly. Reportedly, he cost the State €153 million in losses on his NAMA loans when he exited the agency last year. That has not stopped him from being chosen as the first developer to borrow from Activate Capital, an off-balance-sheet financial vehicle set up by the Irish Strategic Investment Fund last year to lend what is left of the National Pensions Reserve Fund to developers.

By contrast, NAMA has invested a pitiful €260 million into social housing out of the €35 billion revenue it has raised to date, in other words 0.7%. Of the nearly 15,000 houses and apartments in its original portfolio, only around 2,000 or 14% have been provided for social housing. On top of this, since 2014, NAMA has sold enough land for 21,700 homes in the most sought-after areas of the capital, the commuter counties of Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth and the cities of Cork, Limerick and Galway - in other words, at the height of the housing crisis and in the areas where the crisis is worst.

NAMA has recently admitted that only around 1,100 housing units have been built on this land so far. Most of the developers who bought are just sitting on the land waiting for prices to rise. This is so obvious that even NAMA acknowledges rate of return being sought as a factor.

The alleged illegal activities we are discussing here are scandalous. We support the motion and there are some scandals relating to NAMA's legal activities.

It is beyond time for a commission of investigation into the role of NAMA. In his earlier contribution, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, talked about how NAMA has done so well in recovering funds for the State. However, one would have to wonder if the Project Eagle sale had been handled properly how much extra NAMA's surplus for the State would be. We must consider that the bid by Cerberus was 0.1% above the reserve price. The reserve price was €1.24 billion and it paid €1.241. That should lead to questions that need to be answered.

Some £7.5 million was put into a bank account in the Isle of Man to pay off fixers. When one bidder informed NAMA that this was being sought and the bidder withdrew, NAMA did nothing. There have been investigations by the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Securities and Exchange Commission in New York and the National Crime Agency in the Six Counties, yet there has been nothing in this jurisdiction. The Comptroller and Auditor General may be preparing a report, but it is only a report into the value for money and whether NAMA got a good deal on the money it received on the sale of the loan book. That in itself should show enough. However, that two people were arrested on fraud charges and are out on bail in another jurisdiction should show that we need an investigation into NAMA here. While the Minister outlined some successes under the NAMA Act in prosecuting employees of NAMA for leaking information or using information, there has been no investigation of NAMA itself.

We need to see if we should have recovered more, which is vital for the taxpayers. There has been much emphasis on the fact that NAMA will be a success. While that may be so, it could have been a bigger success if it were managed and run properly.

I believe Deputies have outlined a wide range of concerns, as the Minister requested. These show that there is enough here for a commission of investigation to take place.

Fianna Fáil has carried out a volte-face on an investigation into NAMA compared with its position outlined in its Private Members' time in October 2015 and even a few weeks ago when the Fianna Fáil leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, raised it on Leaders' Questions in the House. I believe that was after the arrests had taken place in the Six Counties. Fianna Fáil's excuse today that the arrests had changed the field does not stand up. When we look at the confidence and supply arrangement that Fianna Fáil has provided for Fine Gael in this session, it is obvious that Fine Gael has the confidence that Fianna Fáil will supply the cover for it when it comes to NAMA.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute briefly today on the motion tabled by my Independents 4 Change colleague, Deputy Mick Wallace, calling for a commission of investigation into the sale of NAMA's Northern Ireland portfolio, known as Project Eagle. Deputy Mick Wallace and his team have done sterling work in bringing the grave concerns about the sale of Project Eagle to the attention of the House and the wider public. They must be commended on highlighting an issue of such enormous national importance. They have continued to raise it when, as we have seen today, the Government and the main Opposition party clearly have no appetite for an open and transparent discussion.

I was on the Committee of Public Accounts across two Dáileanna over a period of more than eight years. We conducted many value for money and other investigations into important expenditure of public moneys. While I acknowledge that the Comptroller and Auditor General is carrying out an investigation into the sale of Project Eagle, I see no reason that a commission of investigation could not run concurrently to such an investigation. Therefore, I strongly support Deputy Mick Wallace's call for a commission of investigation into the sale of the Northern Ireland portfolio.

Of course, the general operation of NAMA has not been without its detractors in the past seven years or so. The modus operandi and brief given to NAMA by the Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan, and his predecessor the late Mr. Lenihan has been called into question over recent years by many economists and commentators. A few months ago, for example, the economist, David McWilliams, wrote a very strong piece entitled, NAMA's Actions have Enslaved Us. The famous NAMA Wine Lake blogger over a number years has posed the bottom line question of how citizens and the Oireachtas can truly assess NAMA's performance given that we did not know the par value of individual loans, the NAMA acquisition price and the disposal value.

There have been many questions over the operation of NAMA and whether it was too quick to sell off loans that might have returned a far greater profit for the people. The consequence of selling to US vulture funds is now starting to be felt more acutely and has been discussed many times in this House.

A commission of investigation under the 2004 Act introduced by the then Minister, Senator Michael McDowell, would allow for these matters of significant public concern to be investigated. We can all agree that the reported circumstances surrounding the sale of Project Eagle to Cerberus Capital Management have caused great concern and rightly demand further attention and scrutiny.

We have heard today the details we know of the sale of the Northern Ireland loan book, comprising 850 properties and the sale to Cerberus for just over £1 billion or €1.3 billion. These assets were bought for €2 billion originally and were thus sold on for an even greater discount. This sale, of course, followed the open auction, which was apparently the second attempt to dispose of this portfolio which was originally opened to nine bidders and subsequently reduced to three and then two. It has led to the investigations by our Northern Ireland colleagues in the Assembly's finance committee and the PSNI. I presume that the under-bidders, Fortress and PIMCO, hope due diligence will be carried out by this House and the Irish Government.

I noted the very strong speech by the Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson. His key point was that the NAMA decision to proceed with Project Eagle sale was made in Dublin and, therefore, this House has responsibility for the transaction.

There are questions that have to be answered and I believe a commission of investigation is the best way to get these answers in an open, transparent and accountable way. If NAMA is adamant that there has been no wrongdoing and it has fulfilled its objectives to deliver the best possible outcomes for the taxpayer, it should have no reason to fear a commission of investigation. However, there is no room for any question marks when we talk about these sales. Shocking allegations have been made about NAMA's disposal of the Project Eagle portfolio and that warrants a commission of investigation sooner rather than later.

We had the sale of loans in a sale value of a certain amount and there was a massive sale. They seem to have been acquired at a significant discount and then sold on for an even lower price. Sometimes when we are discussing financial matters, perspective can get lost in the number of zeros after these figures. However, we can only imagine what could have been with the €500 million lost in vital areas such as mental health services, housing or the community sector.

There are also questions about how loans are grouped together in such clusters that it appears only foreign vulture funds have the ability to purchase them. There are legitimate questions to be asked about the strategy being pursued in that respect.

I would also like to raise worrying questions about the Project Jewel portfolio which involved the sale of assets around Moore Street. What exactly was NAMA's function in that sale? It is remarkable that in the case of Project Jewel, the State bought a designated national monument back from itself - it bought it from NAMA which is State-owned at an inflated price - whereas the developer from Chartered Land had a very nice annual salary paid to him by NAMA. There will always be a shadow over NAMA unless it is promptly exonerated by an independent commission of investigation.

The Minister spoke about NAMA in glowing terms, but there is no doubt that the glow has been tarnished. I will mention some of the agencies and interests with which it has been associated. It has had links with the UK National Crime Agency, the US Department of Justice, the FBI, accountants, solicitors and bankers. It has had seats on various bodies. It has been linked with various politicians and parties. We have learned about confidential information, success fees, acquisition fees and moneys being transferred offshore. These are all the ingredients of a novel in the thriller genre. They belong to Lee Child or John le Carré, rather than to what is supposed to be going on in the public interest.

I have been at a number of meetings with Ministers and departmental officials recently to discuss Estimates. The common denominator is that we are supposed to be getting value for money for the funding that goes into the various bodies. There are major questions to be asked about the value we are getting from NAMA. I support what Deputy Mick Wallace has been trying to do with the commission of investigation. Are we dedicated to transparency and truth, or are we just paying lip service?

It is important for us to consider how we investigate issues of public importance in the State. We have been getting our investigation process completely wrong in the past ten or 15 years. I refer to the requirement to set aside the vast majority of the Mahon tribunal's findings which emerged from an incredibly extensive and expensive investigation because of the way certain evidence was used or not properly used. The Supreme Court has judged that the approach to the rules of evidence was not properly followed. There is a lesson for us in that regard. It seems from the outside that a number of years on from the Moriarty tribunal which was of considerable significance because it involved large sums of money and the allocation of contracts within the State, the findings reached by the tribunal have had no real consequences. To my mind, that process did not work. Questions have been asked by people who had dealings with the tribunal and believe the actual process undertaken by it was far from satisfactory.

While we recognise the establishment of new mechanisms known as commissions of investigation, we suggest the evidence that has come before us in recent months requires us to ask real questions about how the process is working. The Cregan commission was set up on foot of calls for a commission of investigation to be established to look at the sale of IBRC assets, including Siteserv. My party which was outside the Dáil at the time stated: "No, this is not working." We argued that we should be doing this ourselves by getting an Oireachtas committee to investigate the issue. We made the point that running for a High Court judge to try to set up a commission of investigation should not be the first thing we do whenever complex or difficult issues arose. I am now even more convinced of the real difficulties with commissions of investigation in the light of how the process recently treated Sergeant Maurice McCabe. I understand from everything I have heard at a distance - I am not intrinsically involved - that the adversarial approach taken in this investigation was deeply unsatisfactory for the participants. The commission delivered in the sense of providing a finding. It ultimately produced a report which vindicated Sergeant McCabe. Real questions need to be asked about the use of such commissions or these mechanisms in general.

I am a member of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. The first thing we have on our agenda is our own form of investigation. There are real questions about the Committee of Public Accounts. I will not go into the details because they are so bloody sensitive that they could affect our entire ability to do our work. I have cited various cases to make the point that I do not see a compelling case for us to be using any commission of inquiry at this time. I do not believe we have got it right in how we do it if we are to do it. No one is disputing that significant issues of consequence arise about the sale of the loan asset book in the North of Ireland. No one is doubting that issues such as the manner in which money was salted away to the Isle of Man and the undue influence of some people involved in the process are of concern to everyone. Given that the circumstances which are the cornerstone of the key issue are at the centre of a criminal investigation governed by rules of evidence, I do not believe we should do anything that would interfere with, undermine, confuse or get in the way of the real accountability associated with criminal proceedings which lead to consequences. I suggest this is a particularly valid point in the absence of a process that works effectively. Why would we jump into yet another commission process when we have not even worked out from the recent processes how we should manage these commissions?

I would like to move on to those instances where we do have jurisdiction and where there are issues to be examined about NAMA's actions in the South. This is separate from the immediate issues relating to the financial transactions that took place in the North and the various actors involved there. Consideration needs to be given to how NAMA has worked and delivered on the objectives set out for it. It seems that this is primarily a subject for political discussion or investigation. That would be very healthy and valid. The more openness with which we have a really good internal inquiry in this area the better. However, it is much better suited to political investigation within the Committee of Public Accounts. If we are going to get commissions of inquiry right or our capability to inquire right, we have to start here in the Oireachtas, for example, in the Committee of Public Accounts, by learning lessons from what has happened in recent years when we seemingly got this wrong. I ask why we would not be prepared to set ourselves to the real task of having full transparency, full access to information and full accountability through the Committee of Public Accounts. That committee should be able to do what it says on the tin. That is my primary response to this legislation.

I welcome the work Deputy Mick Wallace has done to expose various aspects of this issue. I respond to it by suggesting we should be allowed to investigate in the Oireachtas. That would be cheaper and give us greater control. It would not interfere with any criminal investigation. We would not run into any difficulty if something similar to the criminal investigation in the North were to be undertaken here. The approach I am advocating would empower this House, something we have to do.

I thank the Deputies who have introduced the motion for discussion and made contributions to the debate. These are serious matters that require informed discussion. The Taoiseach best summarised our position in this House recently when he said "allegations, rumours and speculation [are] not the basis for setting up a commission of investigation." This position is reflected in Fianna Fáil’s amendment. It is clear from this debate that some Deputies prefer to remain in the realm of "rumours and speculation". It is not unreasonable for us to expect that those proposing a motion in this House would outline specific concerns appropriate to a commission of investigation and thereby allow the House to consider such concerns. Regrettably, no specific concerns appropriate to a commission of investigation have been articulated for consideration by the House. Specific issues appropriate to a commission of investigation may arise or remain following the completion of the various investigations under way. It is comforting to see the reasoned and measured approach echoed in each of the proposed amendments. We must allow ongoing investigations the time and space to complete their work.

It is in all of our interests that NAMA has secured and continues to secure the best return possible for the Irish taxpayer. I remind Deputies that this has happened because the Oireachtas had the foresight to provide for appropriate legislative oversight when it framed the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009. An independent board of directors was put in place to take commercial decisions to secure the maximum return to the State, as required under section 10 of the 2009 Act. The Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan, and I have full confidence in the chairman and board of NAMA. They, in turn, are confident that maximum value was secured in the Project Eagle sales process. NAMA's activities are fully audited. The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General must be given the appropriate time and space to complete its section 9 value for money review of Project Eagle properly and in accordance with due process.

Oireachtas oversight was specifically set out in the NAMA Act. The Committee of Public Accounts must be allowed the opportunity to consider the Comptroller and Auditor General’s value for money review. Following recent statements by the Committee of Public Accounts Chairman, whom I congratulate on his appointment, I have no doubt the committee will exercise its oversight and meet the NAMA chair and chief executive to discuss this report, as they have done many times in the past.

There has been much inflammatory rhetoric which, like many times before, has irresponsibly been thrown around in full knowledge that it conflates issues. For clarity, I will address some of the matters raised this evening and previously. The arrest of individuals connected to Project Eagle is extremely concerning. However, the National Crime Agency, NCA, is pursuing a criminal investigation and is the appropriate authority to pursue such charges in Northern Ireland. To date, these arrests have not resulted in charges or in any confirmation of wrongdoing by any person. In addition, NAMA advises that the NCA has confirmed that no aspect of the agency’s activities are under investigation. We must remember that we are not, nor should we be, privy to the NCA’s line of questioning or how it intends to progress its investigation. Equally, we should not prejudge its investigation.

Should a criminal investigation be warranted in this jurisdiction, it is a matter for the Garda. Those who believe they have information in this regard should alert the Garda.

Separately, it is regrettable some Members have conflated separate incidents referring to four arrests. The Deputy is well aware that it was NAMA which lodged separate complaints to the Garda which led to two cases regarding the inappropriate disclosure of information being pursued by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. These cases are in no way related to Project Eagle and the recent arrests in Northern Ireland.

It is also incorrect to hark back to the original par value of the loan book when assessing the return NAMA secured on Project Eagle, or any other sales process. Poor lending practices by the banks and the resulting financial crisis meant that borrowers would never be in a position to repay the full amount. The majority of this loss was recognised upon the acquisition of the loans by NAMA from the banks, as set out by this House in legislation. The loss ultimately suffered on this portfolio is not a loss caused by the sale of the loans but a loss caused by poor underwriting by the banks at the time these loans were granted and by significant falls in the value of property on which these loans were secured. The NAMA board believes it did achieve best value for the portfolio and is best positioned to make that judgment. Assertions that NAMA should have pulled the transaction are purely speculative and are not based on informed analysis.

The NAMA chairman has indicated that the NAMA board is satisfied that the process delivered the best possible return that could have been achieved and is satisfied with the integrity of the sales process. The NAMA board carefully considered the situation at the time PIMCO disclosed the fee arrangement with a former Northern Ireland Advisory Committee, NIAC, member and sought appropriate advice from its appointed loan sale advisers, Lazard. Following the withdrawal of PIMCO, the board made a considered and deliberate decision to proceed, comfortable that sufficient competitive tension remained in the sale process.

Suggestions the Minister should have interfered with NAMA’s commercial decisions fundamentally misunderstands both NAMA’s independent mandate and the role of the Minister for Finance. Under section 14(1) of the NAMA Act 2009 the Minister “may give a direction in writing to NAMA concerning the achievement of the purposes of this Act”. There is nothing to suggest NAMA was not operating within its mandate or in line with the purposes of Act by proceeding with the sale process. In fact, halting the sale process may have had the opposite effect, damaging Ireland’s hard-earned reputation as a credible, open and transparent market.

The suggestion to halt NAMA’s work immediately is completely inappropriate. NAMA continues to progress its mandate to maximise the return to the State, as evidenced in its 2015 annual report and accounts, and should not be impeded in its continuing efforts to do so. It is in everyone’s interest that NAMA continues to eliminate the State’s contingent liability and, potentially, return a profit of up to €2.3 billion. We should also not forget that NAMA’s commercial mandate involves the intention to facilitate the delivery of much-needed residential units and grade A office space in the Dublin docklands. We can ill-afford to jeopardise this meaningful contribution by acquiescing to vague assertions that something is not right.

For all these reasons, it would be inappropriate to establish a commission of investigation now. I again thank the Deputies for bringing forward their motion for discussion this evening and for their participation in this debate. I believe it is clear that a commission of investigation into any matter should not be entered into without due consideration of what specific concerns that commission could usefully investigate. The Minister is more than willing to discuss fully specific concerns which this House believes are appropriate for a commission of investigation. Fianna Fáil’s amendment to the motion suggests that a commission of investigation should be pursued if warranted, following the completion of ongoing investigations. I agree that if specific concerns arise following the conclusion of other investigations that would require a commission of investigation to investigate them, then the Dáil should consider such a course of action at that time. In that regard, the Government’s amendment proposes that we must allow the appropriate authorities the time and space necessary to complete their investigations. The Government will, of course, continue to monitor developments in the interim.

I wish to share time with Deputy Mick Wallace.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

The Minister of State spoke about rumours and speculation. The Fianna Fáil leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, describing the Government’s refusal to act on the matter in question as not tenable, said, "As revelations emerge, and as the levels of the investigations get deeper, the Government's position in relation to the sale of Project Eagle by NAMA is, in my view, more untenable by the day.” He also claimed there are huge ethical questions over the sale of the portfolio and predicted new explosive evidence will emerge in the coming weeks. He claimed, “the deal is tainted, of that there can be no question". That is from Deputy Micheál Martin who is in an arrangement with the party opposite to keep it in government. Several months ago, the Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson, Deputy Michael McGrath, called for an independent commission of inquiry and stated the Government could not hide behind the Comptroller and Auditor General.

As I am not into rumours or speculation, I will stick to the report of the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel which managed to publish a report on this matter, notwithstanding a criminal investigation being under way into the matter. There are only 18 pages in the report which is in good plain English. Perhaps the leader of the Green Party, Deputy Eamon Ryan, might look at it as well. The committee report stated:

The committee found the refusal of NAMA to attend an oral evidence session particularly unhelpful. NAMA needed to be more open and accessible given the importance of the Project Eagle portfolio [some 850 properties] to the Northern Ireland economy. The committee does not accept NAMA’s rationale for not attending hearings.

The report is divided into nine lessons identified to date, evidence outstanding and areas requiring further scrutiny. Regarding lessons to be learned, the committee found meetings were not minuted, there was insufficient professional advice and serious questions arose over the nominations to the advice committee in Northern Ireland. The committee noted “with regret the decision of the NAMA board not to suspend the Project Eagle sales process once PIMCO had disclosed to the agency in March 2014 ... PIMCO’s proposed fee arrangement” with the two legal companies and the third party of €15 million. The report continued:

While it does not fall to this committee to pursue [it is aware of its limitations], given the seriousness of the revelation by PIMCO, it is unclear why the Irish Government’s Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, did not intervene at this point [when PIMCO made it aware of what was happening], by exercising his general powers of direction over NAMA to suspend the sales process until matters were investigated fully.

The committee’s report stated:

In the case of the Irish Government and NAMA, the available information suggests shortcomings in the handling of the bidding process and related decisions. It is therefore imperative that the lessons identified to date are acted on as applicable.

Notwithstanding it had difficulty getting witnesses to attend, this committee was able to make certain findings while acknowledging the facts were unclear. It was able to set out what was unclear and clear. Accordingly, I have no hesitation in supporting Deputy Mick Wallace’s motion. I congratulate him because it has been extremely difficult to keep working on this, particularly in light of the turnaround by Fianna Fáil which had given every indication it would support the motion. I deplore the actions of Fianna Fáil on this matter. Many times in the courts it has been said that there would be no need for tribunals or expensive court cases if questions were not just asked but answered.

Before he left the Chamber, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, said if I had any allegations, I should make them without using Dáil privilege.

With regard to the two gentlemen who were arrested a few weeks ago, the former employees of NAMA who worked for it in Dublin, I have mentioned them several times outside this House. The Minister spoke about going to the relevant authorities. I have gone to the Garda on a number of occasions and to the National Crime Agency. I have not been hiding behind the door. The Minister said it is unreasonable to talk of par value. It is not unreasonable to talk of par value. No one expects us to get par value but if I hear NAMA say once more that it will make a profit, I will vomit. The par value was €74.8 billion and it is going to get about €34 billion. The Irish taxpayer does not want to hear that it is making a profit because we are out about €40 billion. We were told NAMA was invented in order to put these assets into cold storage until there was recovery. What did we do? We could not offload them quick enough and we could not offload Project Eagle quick enough. Does the Minister of State know how much competitive tension there was in that bid when there was no one left but Cerberus and Fortress? There was zero competitive tension.

Fianna Fáil Members mentioned that my motion should have been clearer and more specific. I specifically went as close to their motion of October 2015 as possible because I wanted to keep them on board. I could have included much more in the motion. I went as close as I possibly could to Fianna Fáil to give it no reason for coming out of it, yet they have done so.

The three speakers from Fianna Fáil made some very good points today but they are totally inconsistent with their position of not having a commission of investigation now. It will not interfere in any way with what the NCA and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States are doing. The legal opinion provided to me makes the point that if at any stage during the commission's lifetime the Director of Public Prosecutions decides to institute criminal proceedings, and in the unlikely event that the Director of Public Prosecutions believes there was a conflict and that the commission's activities might endanger those criminal proceedings, it would be open to the Director of Public Prosecutions to write to the commission and set out her concerns regarding how matters should proceed, but this very unlikely potential eventuality is not adequate reason for the Oireachtas and the Government to shirk their duty in establishing a commission to begin a thorough investigation.

The Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, referred to the independence of NAMA but he had no problem interfering with NAMA in May 2010, March 2012 and July 2015, when it suited him. The truth be told, the Minister has the power to tell NAMA what to do in all areas, so long as the direction or order under section 14 is to do with achieving the purposes of the Act, which are set out in section 2. He could tell NAMA to do anything in this context. He could even have told it to honour a social mandate, which was in the small print. However, he chose not to. He chose to do whatever he liked. He has not wanted to hold NAMA to account. He is happy with its commercial mandate and happy we have taken a completely neoliberal position. We have sold assets for half what it cost to build them. We have sold the assets in Project Eagle to Cerberus for a song. It is going to make a fortune on it, yet the Minister is trying to tell us we got the best possible return. If we got the best possible return, Cerberus could not be making a fraction of what it is going to make on it. It does not stack up. It is rubbish.

No one would be well having contemplated what is happening here. We have put a lot into this in trying to get the truth out. There is nothing I have said in here or outside this Chamber that has been proved to be wrong. I want the Minister of State, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to try to contradict that because it is not true. I have not told one lie in here or outside the Chamber.

This is not going away. If it is the last thing I do, I am going to get to the truth of this and I am going to expose what has gone on. We are setting up an organisation called We have got help from the people who fixed up Snowden, The Intercept, and we are going to invite members of the public to come forward with information where they feel they have been badly treated by NAMA, banks or investment funds. We are inviting insiders with information, who will have 100% confidentiality, to send us documents that are truthful in order to address this rottenness that exists in how we do business in this country and how they do business in Northern Ireland. They are no worse up there than we are down here, there is a pair of us in it. Our credibility at international level is going to suffer unless the Government has the gumption and the balls to actually go after the truth, because it is not showing any. I am gutted that Fianna Fáil is not showing it either.

Amendment put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 30 June 2016.