Ignorance on Nama damaging, says Dempsey


LABOUR LEADER Eamon Gilmore has been accused by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey of damaging the country through his “ignorance” of the basic facts about the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

“For six weeks we have listened to Eamon Gilmore pontificating about the solution to Ireland’s financial crisis. He has consistently attacked the Government’s decision to set up Nama but we discovered during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil that he hasn’t even grasped the basic facts about the Government proposal,” Mr Dempsey said yesterday. During Dáil exchanges on Tuesday, Mr Gilmore maintained Taoiseach Brian Cowen had announced a change in policy. “Nama was originally to be set up for distressed loans, but the Taoiseach is now telling the House that it is to include performing loans,” said the Labour leader.

Mr Dempsey said yesterday that if Mr Gilmore had taken 10 minutes to read his brief back in April he would have known that the inclusion of performing loans in Nama had, from day one, been a key feature of the Government strategy for the banks. He added that it was widely reported at the time and detailed in the Dáil on numerous occasions by the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance.

“That such a critical fact escaped Mr Gilmore’s attention speaks volumes about his attitude to this financial crisis: don’t bother with the facts, just go for the shallow, populist sound-bite . . .

“Mr Gilmore’s sustained attacks on Nama designed to undermine the agency is playing into the hands of the many powerful vested interests who are working hard to scupper this solution to our banking crisis,” said Mr Dempsey.

The Minister added he found it “absolutely astounding” the Labour leader would not know a basic fact about Nama as there had been two or three references in the budget documentation to the fact performing as well as non-performing loans would be taken over by the new State agency.

“It is all very fine to adopt a populist line . . . but on something like this where Ireland’s international reputation is at stake, he has done serious damage.”

Mr Dempsey added the international coverage of Ireland’s financial problems in media outlets such as the Financial Timeshad made extensive use of false Opposition claims which had damaged the country.

The Minister said while details of how Nama would operate were still being worked out, as stated by the head of the National Treasury Management Agency, Dr Michael Somers, that did not provide an excuse for Mr Gilmore to misunderstand facts already in the public domain.