Letter goes out summoning Robinson to Stormont committee

DUP leader Peter Robinson has said he is happy to appear before a Stormont committee

THE letter summoning Peter Robinson to appear before the Stormont committee probing the Nama deal is expected to be sent out today.

The first minister said on Wednesday that he was willing to appear before the committee after fiercely rejecting allegations by loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson to the same hearing that he was among five people set to share in a success fee folllowing Nama's £1.3bn northern loan book sale.

However it is still not clear if two of the first minister's DUP colleagues - Simon Hamilton and Sammy Wilson - both former finance ministers - will appear before the finance committee probe.

The MLAs looking into the circumstances surrounding the sale of Nama's northern loan portfolio to US investment fund Cerberus agreed on Wednesday to hear evidence from the DUP leader. Mr Robinson has indicated that he would be happy to appear in front of the committee.

During Martin McGuinness's appearance before MLAs on Wednesday the deputy first minister said there were "very serious questions" about what role Mr Robinson played in the Cerberus deal.

The Sinn Féin MLA said he was "kept in the dark" about meetings and correspondence DUP ministers had with Nama and various bidders for its Northern Ireland loan book, known as Project Eagle.

Mr McGuinness told the committee he was "gobsmacked" when The Irish News revealed Mr Robinson's meeting with Cerberus chairman and former US Vice President Dan Quayle ahead of the deal being finalised.

The same committee also heard explosive allegations from Jamie Bryson. The one-time flag protester told MLAs that the five recipients of £7.5m lodged in a offshore bank account after the Cerberus deal was completed were Mr Robinson, developer Andrew Creighton, accountant David Watters, businessman Frank Cushnahan and solicitor Ian Coulter.

The DUP leader described the claim as "scurrilous and unfounded".

If Mr Robinson does give evidence to the finance and personnel committee as part of the Nama inquiry he will be the first DUP representative to do so. Efforts to summon former finance ministers Sammy Wilson and Simon Hamilton to answer MLAs' questions have so far proved fruitless.

While both former DUP ministers have agreed in principle to appear, they have yet to provide the committee with dates on which they are available.

The MLAs' questioning of Mr Wilson is expected to focus his recommendation that Mr Cushnahan be appointed to Nama's Northern Ireland advisory committee in 2010. Mr Cushanahan resigned from the committee in late 2013. However, according to Nama's chairman, the former Belfast Harbour Commissioners chairman was in line to receive £5m had a previous bid for Project Eagle succeeded.

Questions for Mr Hamilton are likely to centre on his assertion that Mr McGuinness was kept fully briefed on the sale of Nama's northern portfolio. While the Strangford MLA gave representatives of the Republic's government assurances that the deputy first minister was kept up to speed on developments around Nama, Mr McGuinness has disputed this.




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