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Irish News again figures at Nama hearing

DUP councillor turned lobbyist Gareth Robinson with his father Peter Robinson

THE Irish News was again name-checked during the Stormont finance committee's hearings into the Nama deal.

The paper has broken a series of stories relating to the controversy since independent TD Mick Wallace first claimed in July that a Northern Ireland politician was set to share in £7m lodged in a offshore bank account.

Three weeks ago when loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson gave evidence to the committee, the Irish News was cited no fewer than 15 times.

While that figure was not matched yesterday, the paper was again prominent with First Minister Peter Robinson providing the first mentions.

Asked by Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle whether his son Gareth worked on the Millmount development in Dundonald, the DUP leader responded: "I don't believe he did."

Mr Robinson then went on to say: "It may come as a shock, particularly to The Irish News, I've never been in his (Gareth Robinson's) business premises.

"I've never seen his client list, except in The Irish News, and it's not a subject that would be appropriate to deal with."

Over the past year, The Irish News has highlighted a number of controversies to which the DUP leader's son has been linked, including working for Barry McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions when it received £300,000 of public money, and questions about his access to Stormont's Parliament Buildings.

Gareth Robinson left politics after establishing his own company, Verbatim Communications, in 2010.

Irish News editor Noel Doran responded to Mr Robinson's remarks on Wednesday night.

"While Mr Robinson believes we will be shocked to learn that he has never either visited the office of his son, Gareth, or viewed his client list, he might like to note that we did not put forward any such suggestion," he said.

"What we have done is to place a firm spotlight on matters which involve significant amounts of public money.

"We would be keen discuss these issues directly with the First Minister, and, even though he has declined to respond to all our requests for an interview over the last 18 months, he should not be surprised to learn that we will continue to ask some very pertinent questions."

The SDLP's Dominic Bradley later described Mr Robinson as an "avid reader" of The Irish News.

The paper was also namechecked a fortnight ago in Dublin when Nama officials were quizzed by TDs in the Public Accounts Committee.

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