Alliance Party seeks Nama inquiry to restore ‘public trust’ in politics

Stormont party leaders invited to talks on setting up fully independent investigation

David Ford said as each day passed and every new allegation emerged regarding the controversial £1.3 billion Project Eagle property deal, “the public’s trust in the political system takes another blow”. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

David Ford said as each day passed and every new allegation emerged regarding the controversial £1.3 billion Project Eagle property deal, “the public’s trust in the political system takes another blow”. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

DUP leader Arlene Foster has warned Britain’s National Crime Agency

(NCA) investigation into Project Eagle will have to be complete before her party considers involvement in any inquiry.

Last week the BBC Spotlight programme broadcast allegations that Nama’s former Northern Ireland adviser Frank Cushnahan, has been secretly recorded accepting a £40,000 (€48,000) cash payment from a Nama borrower.

Deputy First Minister Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness told UTV he believes the DUP and other parties must co-operate with the inquiry

into the being established by the Irish Government.

“I believe there are many people within the DUP who are very concerned about the Spotlight programme and the revelations that took place within that programme,” he said. “And of course the revelations were directly related to people who were very closely associated with people in the DUP. Anybody that has any contribution to make to these inquiries should make themselves available.”

Speaking in Derry, Ms Foster said the NCA must be allowed to complete its investigation before the DUP makes any decision.

“I don’t think we should jump the gun in any of this. I can understand from other parties that they want to make party politics out of this matter. This is too serious an issue for that,” she said. “I want to get to the truth and have transparency in relation to this matter.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of providing political cover for the “robbing of citizens”.

Speaking at his party’s think-in in Co Meath, Mr Adams said the two parties continuously blocked inquiries into the Project Eagle deal.

“Sinn Féin has raised the issue of Nama at least 34 times in the Dáil. I have spoken to the Taoiseach directly on this issue. I spoke three or four times to the Fianna Fáil leader on this, I actually wrote to the Fianna Fáil leader on the issue and he didn’t even bother to answer me. They voted against a commission of investigation,” Mr Adams said.

Mr Adams urged Ms Foster to assist with an all-island inquiry.

“ I don’t think Arlene Foster has anything to hide on this issue,” he said. “It is a mistake not to ensure maximum co-operation between the two jurisdictions. She leaves herself open to the accusation that the DUP has something to hide.I don’t think she has personally anything to hide.”

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called for a joint investigation comprising An Garda Siochána, the PSNI, and the NCA.

Mr Eastwood also said his party would publish a draft Bill to amend Westminster legislation to allow for joint North-South investigations.

He said it was time for “action and certainty on getting to the truth around Nama” and that “it simply does not fly that any inquiry must wait for the NCA investigation”.

The Alliance Party leader David Ford has requested a meeting with other Stormont leaders to discuss the possibility of an independent investigation into alleged corruption surrounding Nama’s Project Eagle transaction.

David Ford said as each day passed and every new allegation emerged regarding the controversial £1.3 billion property deal, “the public’s trust in the political system takes another blow”.

An Alliance source said any investigation must be cross-Border, as the allegations emerging “don’t stop at the Border”.