According to Tory MP, Ben Gummer’s website the next opportunity to met Ben will be in the pub. And maybe his constituents should take advantage of that opportunity because the next opportunity to meet him after that, might be in Dublin’s Mountjoy prison. Why? Because Ben is apparently intent on travelling to Dublin along with British MEP, Vicky Ford to visit with NAMA and according to the East Anglian Daily Times “to put pressure” on the agency “to pave the way for work to restart” on developments on Ipswich’s Waterfront – Ipswich being part of Ben’s constituency.
According to the latest NAMA foreclosure list, there are three foreclosed properties inIpswich –Sproughton Road, The Mill and Regatta Quay. The Mill is shown on the foreclosure list as a multiple residential development and Regatta Quay is shown as a commenced development. These are the two properties referred to in the Daily Times’ reporting.
Ben is quoted as saying “it is important that we go toDublinto speak to those who are now running NAMA to ensure they understand the situation we are in back here inIpswich. Although the sums involved here seem a great deal of money and they have a massive impact on the Waterfront, in the whole scheme of things so far as NAMA is concerned they are pretty small” and “they [NAMA] are looking at billions of pounds, and the two developments in Ipswich are a few million – we want to make sure they are not forgotten about and don’t just sit at the bottom of the pile when it comes to dealing with NAMA’s debts”
Now you might recall last year former defence minister and barrister Willie O’Dea having conniptions over whether he could communicate with NAMA about health and safety issues with a NAMA site in his constituency, or then-Minister Mary Hanafin tip-toeing around his meetings with NAMA to discuss the agency’s dealings with its hotels. But in more recent times, Wicklow and East Carlow TD Stephen Donnelly has apparently secured a commitment from NAMA to look at a developer’s business plan and fellow constituency TD, Fine Gael’s Simon Harris secured a commitment from NAMA to tidy up a derelict hotel site. Last Friday, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told the Seanad “they [TDs and Senators] are forbidden under law from lobbying but they are entitled to information, which is a way around much of the confidentiality restriction. If someone feels he has been wronged, he can get a read-out by getting a public representative to make a telephone call. He is legally protected because this has been officially agreed”
A long-standing view on here is that NAMA’s much-touted anti-lobbying rules are effectively useless despite the dark warnings about 6-month jail terms for those found to have broken the rules. Let’s see how Ben and Vicky get on?
NAMA was asked for a comment on the story reported by the East Anglia Daily Times. If there is any response, this blogpost will be updated.
UPDATE: 17th October, 2011. The NAMA response is, as might have been predicted, an invitation to read the anti-lobbying rules and a reference to Ben’s statements published by the East Anglian Daily Times.