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McAleese 'has no knowledge' of email to finance department

Former Irish president Mary McAleese says she knows nothing about the Nama email
Former Irish president Mary McAleese says she knows nothing about the Nama email Former Irish president Mary McAleese says she knows nothing about the Nama email

FORMER President Mary McAleese has said she knows nothing about an email sent by one of her officials to the Department of Finance about a potential appointment to Nama's board.

Documents released by Michael Noonan's department earlier this week include email correspondence from 2009 between Tim O'Connor, a member of President McAleese's staff, and the former secretary general at the Department of Finance Kevin Cardiff.

Mr Cardiff was the recipient of applications for places on Nama's board before they were forwarded to the then finance minister Brian Lenihan.

The email relates to an application to join the board from Brian Rowntree, who was subsequently appointed to the bad bank's Northern Ireland Advisory Committee alongside Frank Cushnahan.

What makes the correspondence noteworthy is that the Irish president is strictly limited in the role they are permitted to play in the workings of government.

It would be highly irregular for the president or a member of their staff to intervene in the Nama board selection process, although there is nothing in the email to suggest that was the case.

However, since the email was released on Wednesday night Dublin's Department of Finance, Nama and the president's office have done little to provide any context or explanation for it.

Both Nama and the president's office have insisted that the Department of Financ has responsibility for answering queries about the correspondence.

For its part, the department declined to shed any light on the purpose of the email.

"All applications were received through the secretary general’s office for the attention of the minister... applicants were requested to submit their details directly to the secretary general," a statement said.

Mr Rowntree said he originally applied for the Nama board and did not make a separate application for the northern advisory committee.

"I was honoured to be appointed and was there from inception to committee termination," he said.

Mrs McAleese last night told The Irish News that she knew nothing about the correspondence.

"I wish to categorically state that neither I nor my husband had any knowledge of or role in the matters contained in and referenced in the email to which you refer," the former president said.