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18 March 2017

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Fine Gael attacks on PAC watchdog are unacceptable, says David Cullinane TD

● David Cullinane

‘It is important that we have high standards, accountability and transparency in decision-making in state and public bodies’

ATTACKS on the Dáil Public Accounts Committee by the Taoiseach and the Finance Minister for its report on the sale by the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) of Project Eagle loans in 2014 “shows the contempt Fine Gael has for standards in public office”, PAC member and Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane has said.

The PAC found that NAMA’s £1.37billion sale of Project Eagle’s assets portfolio that lost taxpayers €185million was “seriously deficient”.

The actions of Fine Gael Finance Minister Michael Noonan in the episode were also implicitly criticised by the PAC. Fine Gael members of the PAC dissented from the findings against their party colleague. Party leader Enda Kenny said in the United States that Noonan had acted “entirely appropriately”.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane hit back at Fine Gael circling the wagons around their Finance Minister:

“It seems Michael Noonan and the Taoiseach are joining NAMA in attempting to undermine the work of the Public Accounts Committee. This is unacceptable.

“The PAC did its work fairly, independently and diligently.

“We examined thousands of pages of documents and held dozens of meetings.

“Our report is balanced and fair.”

He said that, in recent times we have witnessed an unprecedented attack on the constitutional office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the state’s watchdog for the public finances.

“It seems the motivations of the PAC are now being called into question,” David Cullinane said. “This is unacceptable.”

He concluded:

“Political leadership loses its value when it fails to reflect standards of justice and accountability, when it becomes detached from the lives of citizens they are meant to serve.

“It is important that we have high standards, accountability and transparency in decision-making in state and public bodies.

“I and Mary Lou McDonald, along with other members of the PAC, will not be deterred from our work.

“It is crucial that the PAC is allowed to do its work and report on its deliberations.

“We will continue to put questions without fear or favour.”

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