Belfast Telegraph

Nama: Peter Robinson warns he will sue TD Wallace over Twitter remarks

By Liam Clarke

Peter Robinson has put the Irish politician who made explosive claims about the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland portfolio on notice that he intends to sue him.

Lawyers for the First Minister wrote to Independent TD Mick Wallace this week over the comments he posted on Twitter earlier this year.

Last night, both libel lawyer Paul Tweed, who is representing Mr Robinson, and a DUP spokesman confirmed that the action was being prepared in case Mr Wallace did not settle.

Mr Tweed told the Belfast Telegraph: "I can confirm that Mick Wallace has been placed under notice as a result of a highly defamatory tweet. If we do not get a satisfactory response, action will follow."

Asked where he might sue, the lawyer said: "It could be Belfast, Dublin or both, We are considering the best forum".

He refused to discuss the case further, citing confidentiality.

Mr Tweed's letter claims that Mr Wallace made "an extremely serious, false and defamatory allegation" in a tweet.

It went on to allege that Mr Wallace's tweet was "clearly made for your own self-publicity rather than in support of your claim to be acting in the public interest."

Mr Wallace hit the headlines this year when he used parliamentary privilege to allege that a Northern Ireland politician had been set to benefit from Nama assets in Northern Ireland.

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The claims have led to police and parliamentary probes on both sides of the border into the sale of the assets.

Mr Tweed acts for several of those involved in the Nama dispute here, including Frank Cushnahan, the former banker and renowned deal maker.

There are currently inquiries going on in both the Dail and the Assembly following Mr Wallace's claims.

Nama, the National Asset Management Agency, is the Republic's bad bank, which deals with properties taken into public ownership after the banking crisis.

These include Northern Ireland properties worth £4.5bn which were sold to Cerberus Capital Management in April last year.

Codenamed "Operation Eagle" it was Nama's biggest land sale to date. Nama had originally acquired the properties, which include the Lanyon Plaza, for a rumoured £1bn.

Cerberus refuses to attend the Stormont Inquiry, as does Mr Wallace.

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Acting for Mr Cusnahan, Mr Tweed has accused the Stormont hearing of accepting "sensational and wholly inaccurate evidence" against his client.

Mr Robinson has always agreed that he had talks with those behind the deal, including former US vice president Dan Quayle, and that he welcomed it. However, he has stated that he was acting in the interests of Northern Ireland, not for personal gain.

"For some time I have made clear the danger to the local economy of leaving valuable assets undeveloped and the threat that these posed to otherwise profitable businesses. I believe that this deal can be of real benefit to our economy," he said at the time.

He praised the authorities in the Republic for the way the deal was handled.

He said: "I would also like to put on record my appreciation to Nama and the Finance Minister in the Republic of Ireland, Michael Noonan, for the constructive way they have worked with the Northern Ireland Executive over the sale of this portfolio."

Belfast Telegraph


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