Belfast Telegraph

I was kept in dark by DUP about £1bn loan sale, claims McGuinness

By Rebecca Black

Martin McGuinness has said there are "very serious questions" about what capacity Peter Robinson was acting in with regard to the Nama loan sale.

Relations between the Deputy First Minister and First Minister Mr Robinson soured even further yesterday following a disagreement about who knew what regarding the sale of the Northern Ireland chunk of the Nama portfolio.

Mr McGuinness has claimed that he was left out of meetings and denies the DUP's assertion that he was briefed throughout the process.

The senior Sinn Fein man was speaking during a sitting of the Finance Committee's investigation into the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland assets.

He said he was not told about meetings and contacts between Nama, bidders for its NI portfolio and DUP ministers.

Then he claimed that he was "gobsmacked" by allegations of impropriety made by TD Mick Wallace in the Dail earlier this year.

Mr McGuinness told the committee there were "very serious questions" about what capacity Mr Robinson was acting in with regard to the Nama loan sale.

Mr McGuinness did not make an opening statement and instead committee chairman Daithi McKay went straight into questions.

He started by asking whether Mr McGuinness was aware of a memorandum of understanding sent to Nama in 2013.

Mr McGuinness said he had not seen it.

Mr McKay asked if it should have been sent without his knowledge.

"The memo, to be valid, required mine and the First Minister's consent... that didn't happen," Mr McGuinness said.

He added that after Mr Robinson said there was a paper trail which proved he was aware, he asked his officials to conduct a thorough check.

"No such paper trail exists," he said.

Mr McGuinness said he had been left out of a meeting attended by then Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Mr Robinson.

He said he was also left out of a meeting which included former United States vice-president Dan Quayle at Stormont Castle.

"It raises various questions about what capacity the First Minister had been acting," he told the committee.

"Clearly it suggests the First Minister was in contact with the Finance Minister, was involved in an enterprise which also involved Michael Noonan without my knowledge.

"The only conversation I had with Michael Noonan was on January 14, 2014 when the First Minister and I were involved in a conference call."

Mr McGuinness also said the episode had left him questioning how the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) worked and said it had been raised during the ongoing talks.

"This does raise very serious questions about the approach to the running of the offices of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister," he said, also hinting it was not the first time something like this had happened within OFMDFM.

"There is a blurred line there in who people think they are making representations to," he said.

However, DUP MLA Jim Wells put it to Mr McGuinness that he was aware an email with an attachment containing all the information about the sale of the Nama assets had been sent to his then advisor Dara O'Hagan. Mr McGuinness said he was not aware of this.

Mr Wells also put it to Mr McGuinness that he had been invited to attend one of the meetings which he claims he had been excluded from.

The DUP man claimed Mr McGuinness excused himself by text message saying he had to attend a funeral. He added that Mr McGuinness was unavailable to attend the other meeting because he was at a function with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Belfast Telegraph


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