Northern Ireland

Nama: Sinn Féin says fresh inquiry by finance committee will not serve 'useful purpose'

Stormont
Image caption MLAs are debating an Ulster Unionist motion regarding the controversial sale of the Northern Ireland property portfolio by Nama

Sinn Féin has said it does not believe a fresh inquiry into the Nama property scandal by the Stormont Finance Committee will serve a useful purpose.

MLAs are debating an Ulster Unionist motion regarding Project Eagle.

This is the controversial sale of the NI property portfolio by the Irish Republic's National Assets Management Agency (Nama).

The motion says the finance committee, which has already reported on the matter, should have a fresh inquiry.

However, Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd placed his emphasis on the Irish government's new Commission of Inquiry into the affair and questioned what purpose a new finance committee investigation would serve.

"Do we want to set up a finance committee inquiry for the sake of setting up a finance committee inquiry which will produce great efforts, I have no doubt, by the committee members and the committee staff, but will it result in those responsible for wrong-doings around Project Eagle being brought to account?," he said.

"I do not believe so."

Assurances

The finance committee's chair, Emma Little-Pengelly, said the National Crime Agency, which is currently investigating Project Eagle, has strongly requested the committee does not conduct a fresh investigation and accused the Ulster Unionists of ignoring that call.

The Ulster Unionist MLA Phillip Smith said the public and international investors needed assurance Northern Ireland is a clean place to do business.

Earlier this month, the Irish government announced it intended to set up an investigation into Northern Ireland's biggest ever property deal.

Image caption There have been a series of allegations about impropriety in Nama's sale of the property loan portfolio

Nama sold the property loan portfolio to a US investment fund for £1.2bn in 2014.

There have been a series of allegations about impropriety in the sales process.

The Dublin government will discuss options with opposition parties before deciding on the format for an inquiry.

The Nama deal is already the subject of an inquiry by the Northern Ireland Assembly's finance committee.

Image copyright BBC Newsline
Image caption Frank Cushnahan, a former Nama adviser, was recorded accepted a cash payment from a Nama client

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he was "not opposed" to an inquiry after "extraordinary" allegations about the deal were made in a BBC Spotlight programme.

It showed Frank Cushnahan, a former Nama adviser, accept a £40,000 cash payment from a Nama client.

The payment was made by County Down property developer John Miskelly.

Mr Cushnahan was working as an advisor for Nama at the time. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Miskelly has said that any payments he made were "lawful".

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