Northern Ireland

Nama: Arlene Foster urged to intervene after Peter Robinson 'flatly contradicts' Martin McGuinness

Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster
Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster

ARLENE Foster faced calls yesterday to clarify Stormont's role in the northern Nama deal after Peter Robinson wrote to a Dáil committee "flatly contradicting" Martin McGuinness.

In a letter, Mr Robinson refused to appear before the Dail's Public Accounts Committee to give evidence on the £1.24 billion Project Eagle portfolio.

The former first minister said he was not answerable to the inquiry and that he had already given evidence to a separate probe at Stormont.

But ex-DUP leader Mr Robinson said the committee could email him if it wants his views on any specific issues and he would be happy to respond.

Committee chairman Seán Fleming said much of Mr Robinson's assembly finance committee statement "flatly contradicts" evidence given by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to the Dublin hearing last week.

The inquiry would have to adjudicate on that, he said.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said she was disappointed that Mr Robinson was refusing to attend.

"I believe it would have been very helpful if Mr Robinson attended," she said.

"We are now placed in a very difficult situation. He has flatly contradicted what the deputy first minister said here."

A criminal investigation and parliamentary probes on both sides of the border were launched last year following claims about the controversial sale of Nama's Northern Ireland property loans portfolio.

It was alleged in the Dáil that a £7m offshore fund linked to the 2015 deal was earmarked for a northern politician or party.

Sinn Féin's Mr McGuinness has previously claimed he was "kept in the dark" about meetings and correspondence DUP ministers had with Nama and loan book bidders – a stance rejected by Mr Robinson.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood last night urged First Minister Mrs Foster to put pressure on her predecessor to attend the committee.

The Foyle MLA added that the first and deputy first ministers' office must be asked whether Mr McGuinness or Mr Robinson's version of events is correct.

"As his party leader and as the leader of an executive cast into disrepute by this scandal, Arlene Foster must pressure Peter Robinson to give evidence to the public accounts committee in Dublin," he said.

"Up to now she has shown only indifference and equivocation on this critical issue. If she does not, and this contradiction is not resolved, then the Executive Office must be asked which version of events is correct."