Belfast Telegraph

Republic's 'bad bank' seeking PR guru to improve image

Michael Noonan wants people to spend again
Michael Noonan wants people to spend again

By Emmet Oliver

Nama, the Republic's loan agency, is looking to recruit a political lobbyist and communications expert as it seeks to improve relations with politicians and other groups.

The agency - set up in December 2009 - was criticised in the past two years by current members of the Fine Gael/Labour government, although it received support from Fianna Fail and the Greens.

In recent weeks, Taoiseach Enda Kenny claimed the agency was selling some of its assets to existing developers and borrowers, although he later distanced himself from the comments.

The agency, which is in the process of purchasing €73bn (£66bn) of loans, is also expected to come under the Freedom of Information Act shortly.

The agency is seeking a "relationship manager'' to liaise between itself and what it calls its "principal stakeholders".

This is understood to mean members of the Irish parliament, but also the wider business community.

"In light of the ever-increasing volume of enquiries about its work and activities and progress, the agency is recruiting a relationship manager to help respond to them and to support the agency's ongoing communications activities including preparation of speeches, articles and presentations,'' Nama said.

Fine Gael lambasted the agency during the election campaign, claiming it operated behind a veil of secrecy. However, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has spoken more positively about the agency, and holds regular meetings with its chairman Frank Daly.

The candidate is expected to have networking skills and needs to be experienced in political and corporation communications in a "high-profile environment''.

The agency particularly wants to hear from candidates who have previously worked in a political and governmental environment.

Nama has been making attempts to be more transparent and will shortly list developers and properties it has put into receivership or liquidation.