Paddy Kearney a private individual who felt he had to go public

Former member of Anglo’s Maple 10 in ‘battle of his life’

He may be one of the North's wealthiest property developers, a former member of Anglo's famed golden circle , the Maple 10, but at heart Paddy Kearney is still the joiner from West Belfast.

That, at least, was the picture he tried to paint for those listening to his evidence at the latest session of the Stormont inquiry into the sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland loans book, Project Eagle.

He told how he had taken over the family business in west Belfast at the young age of 17 as his parents had been forced to retire because of the stress of running a business and raising a family during what, he said, had become known as the Troubles.

Kearney, whose own personal fortune today is anyone’s guess post property crash, shared how he had been raised by industrious working class parents and that he had been brought up to treat people as he would like to be treated himself.


Room 30 at Parliament Buildings in Stormont, where the Nama inquiry convenes most weeks, may not be the most comfortable surroundings at the best of times but Kearney was relaxed enough to share with virtual strangers how he was a private individual who had a reputation for keeping his own counsel.

His ethos, he said, was to mind his own business and live and let live. Unfortunately, what he described as the “financial Armageddon” which hit Northern Ireland, temporarily appears to have derailed that approach to life.

He, like hundreds of other local property developers, found a significant proportion of his business loans transferred to Nama in 2010 and that , in a nutshell, had forced Kearney to abandon his fiercely protected privacy and speak up.

Kearney’s agenda, as he put it to the inquiry , has always been transparent. He wants to “ save, run and secure the future of my business for the benefit of my own family and the hundreds of families who depend directly or indirectly on my company for their livelihoods”.

In his soft Belfast accent, with an occasional undercurrent of tension, he borrowed a particular euphemism from his home city to describe how Nama had tried to “put his lights out”.

His dealings with the agency eventually culminated in what Kearney said was the “battle of my life”.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business