Cantillon: Noonan’s stance on Stormont is hypocritical

Minister’s views on North’s Nama probe contrasts with approach to banking inquiry

The Minister for Finance’s distinct lack of enthusiasm for sending Nama officials north to answer questions about Project Eagle is in marked contrast to his stance on former ECB officials attending the banking inquiry.

Indeed, the whole issue is more than a little reminiscent of the Jean-Claude Trichet row and more than a little hypocritical.

Last September, Mr Noonan said said he would not intervene to ask Mr Trichet to appear, but that the inquiry should "hear from everybody who's directly involved".

When the boot is on the other foot, the Minister seems to be only too aware of the problems caused by such cross-border requests. As we report today, he will be telling the Northern Irish Assembly finance committee he has no powers to make Irish officials travel to Stormont. And even if he could, it would set a dangerous precedent for other State bodies being forced to account for their actions in other countries.


Most people probably think that on balance accountability both at home and abroad is good thing.

The Taoiseach appears to be one of them. He went one step further than Mr Noonan and raised the issue of Mr Trichet's refusals to attend the inquiry with his successor, Mario Draghi. The upshot of all this was the rather bizarre spectacle in the Royal Hospital last May in which Mr Trichet spoke at a conference and the members of the inquiry were in the audience.

Hopefully a similar farce can be avoided in order to provide the North’s elected representatives with a chance to hold Nama to account for its role in what is shaping up to be the biggest financial scandal in Northern Ireland’s history.