Belfast Telegraph

All-Ireland probe into Nama still on cards: O Muilleoir

By Noel McAdam

Sinn Fein Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir has told MLAs he still believes an all-Ireland inquiry into the Nama allegations could happen — even though First Minister Arlene Foster has ruled it out.

The Finance Minister’s comments came as he was questioned in the Assembly yesterday in the aftermath of the fall-out of allegations that loyalist Jamie Bryson was coached before giving evidence on the controversy last year.

As Dublin appears to be moving towards launching its own inquiry, Mr O Muilleoir — who has denied knowledge of the ‘coaching’ before Mr Bryson gave evidence — said he would step up rather than step aside.

The SDLP’s Claire Hanna  said she believed the public is united in wanting to understand what happened in the run-up to the Nama property deal.

“Will the Minister raise this at the next Executive meeting with a view to getting a united Executive commitment to a full, clear and transparent inquiry into the issue?” she asked.

Mr O Muilleoir said he was in favour of an all-Ireland inquiry, but DUP leader Mrs Foster does not share that position. “In my view, it would not be a sensible path to try to take an argument in the public domain into the Executive.”

He added he believed there could be progress by the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) own investigation, and added he was as keen as anyone to get to the truth.

“I believe that there was wrongdoing. I do not want to speak about individuals, but I hope that the NCA is able to use the evidence that it has gathered to bring to a higher court than this Assembly those who were responsible for the scheme.”

Quizzed by David Ford of Alliance, Mr O Muilleoir said: “I am as keen as he is to get to the truth of what happened in the Project Eagle deal. Much of the information that we are getting has come from sources outside any official investigation. In particular, we all have to tip our cap to the journalists who have been working on the issue.

“I would not give up on the possibility of there being an all-island inquiry.”

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