Lenihan sets out timescale for Nama


MINISTER for Finance Brian Lenihan has said a lot of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) process will be in place by Christmas.

Speaking on the first edition of Pat Kenny’s new current affairs programme The Frontline on RTÉ One last night, Mr Lenihan also defended the Government’s proposal for Nama to purchase €28 billion in loans from Anglo Irish Bank. “Quite a lot of the Nama process will be in place by Christmas because the bigger loans will be dealt with first,” he said.

Mr Lenihan said Anglo Irish Bank had to be “de-risked”. He said the chairman, chief executive and board of the bank were gone since last December. “I had to pick up the pieces there. That bank would have constituted a systemic threat to our economy.”

He said no bank in the euro zone had been allowed to “go to the wall” during the economic crisis. “The Lehmans policy is not being followed in Europe because the tsunami-like effects of default are enormous,” he said.

Mr Lenihan also said he would not have been able to borrow to pay welfare payments and teachers’ salaries if that had happened to Anglo Irish.

When the Nama process was complete a decision would be taken about what to do with the bank. The options that could be considered included downsizing and eliminating the bank, selling it to someone else or running it as nationalised bank to fund business, he said.

The Minister appealed to members of the audience to “please stop talking about Iceland”, adding that people needed to “be real” about the impact of the financial downturn on that country.

“Iceland went bust, it’s going to end up with twice the public debt of Ireland and the cutbacks in public expenditure far greater than anything that will have to be done in this country, and they’re seeking to join the euro at present.”

He said Ireland was relying on the expertise of the European Central Bank.

Meanwhile, Tom Parlon, director general of the Construction Industry Federation, described an anecdote told by Lord Henry Mountcharles on radio recently as a “bullshit story”.

Mr Parlon was referring to Lord Henry Mountcharles’s appearance on the Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One at the weekend, when he related a story he said he had been told about Irish developers in a Porto Banus restaurant singing about Nama and toasting Mr Lenihan.