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Claims McGuinness fully briefed over Nama sale are 'laughable'

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, attends the funeral of playwright Brian Friel at Glenties Cemetery in Co Donegal. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire 

SINN Féin has dismissed as "laughable" suggestions that Martin McGuinness was kept "fully briefed" over the sale of Nama's northern debt portfolio.

Peter Robinson told Stormont's finance committee on Wednesday he had four pieces of evidence to support his assertion that the Deputy First Minister was kept informed about the north's biggest ever property deal.

Mr McGuinness has previously said he was "kept in the dark" over a series of meetings DUP ministers held with potential buyers of the bad bank's Northern Ireland loan book.

In one meeting, revealed by The Irish News in July, Mr Robinson and then finance minister Simon Hamilton met Cerberus chairman and former US Vice President Dan Quayle at Stormont Castle alongside Ian Coulter, the former senior lawyer at Tughans who diverted £7m of fees from the sale into an offshore account.

Mr McGuinness told the committee he was "gobsmacked" to learn of Mr Quayle's visit. Mr Robinson said on Wednesday that the Sinn Fein MLA had "knowledge of the material facts" relating to the Nama sale.

The First Minister said he did not want to give the impression that his government partner "deliberately lied" when he appeared before MLAs last month, but he wanted to set out the "factual position".

"Put simply it is my contention that we were all in sync on the handling of these matters and the deputy first minister was kept informed of developments in relation to the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland portfolio throughout the process," he said.

To support his claim Mr Robinson pointed to emails between his and Mr McGuinness's special advisers and minutes of a conference call in which the deputy first minister took part.

The DUP leader said he could also produce text messages to show the Deputy First Minister had been invited to key meetings but had been unable to attend.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said on Wednesday night said there were a series of meetings where Mr McGuinness was "not present or represented".

The spokesman said well-established protocols for conducting business between ministers had not been followed.

"Anyone who has even the most cursory understanding of how the Executive and OFMDFM systems work would regard claims that the Deputy First Minister was fully briefed as laughable," he added.

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