Adams concern that Clerys debacle could be repeated at Arnotts
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said billions of euro in public assets are being sold off by NAMA to vulture capitalists without any proper democratic oversight.
Mr Adams also drew attention to individuals subject to Nama buying assets for themselves or third parties and raised concerns that what recently happened at Clerys in Dublin could be repeated at another iconic Dublin department store, Arnotts.
Raising the issue with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dail today, Gerry Adams said:
“Yesterday the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) lost a five-year battle, at public expense, to prevent details of its loans and properties being provided to the public. Why would Nama want to prevent citizens knowing about its activities?
“And isn’t it totally unfair and unjust that the taxpayer may have to pay for Nama’s efforts to prevent the very same taxpayer knowing what Nama is doing in the name of the taxpayer?
“Nama has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception. It only became subject to the Freedom of Information Act last year, something which Sinn Fein had produced a Bill on and had campaigned for.
“Billions of euros worth of public assets are being sold off by NAMA to vulture capitalists without any proper democratic oversight.
“Given the scandal at IBRC and the Government’s failure to protect the public interest; given the sell-off of Clerys and the Government’s refusal to legislate to protect workers and concession holders, surely there is an urgent need to look at how Nama is doing its business?
“There are networks within networks of insiders and powerful vested interests behind many of these deals. Some of them are in Nama but they are buying assets for themselves or for third parties. How is this allowed to happen?
“There is also concern that NAMA is engaged in a fire-sale of assets to meet an arbitrary deadline set first by the Troika, and now driven by Minister Michael Noonan.
“Taoiseach considering the public concern that now exists, will you agree to a suspension of non-contracted disposals activity at NAMA for a time-limited examination of the books with a view to ensuring the best interests of citizens is being served?”
Mr Adams pointed out that the GAA's Dublin County Board recently failed in a bid to buy the Spawell centre after offering more than the €6.5m asking price for the 35 acres which could have been a home for Dublin GAA:
“Surely this is the very type of project which NAMA, a state agency, should facilitate? It didn’t. But it did facilitate Noel Smyth of Fitzwilliam Finance Partners.
“Noel Smyth was on Nama’s top 20 developers list. In 2013 he paid IBRC 230 million euros for loans owed by Arnotts and secured 50% of the company. Last week he bought the other 50%.
“Noel Smyth now controls Arnotts. Taoiseach what is to stop him doing at Arnotts what was done at Clerys? It’s perfectly legal under your flawed legislation. Workers at Arnotts are understandably concerned about this. Little wonder given how the legislation favours the elites and not the citizens.
“Taoiseach, to ensure that NAMA prioritises the interests of citizens and taxpayers, will you now establish an independent audit of remaining NAMA properties to determine what could be made available for social & economic development?”