And speaking of the NAMA advisory board, you might have been reassured to learn last week at the Troika-less news conference with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, that the NAMA advisory board isn’t even sure if it is still required. Minister Noonan told the press conference
“There were things about NAMA that I didn’t like and there are things about NAMA that I still keep my eye on. But the appointment of advisors to the Minister under the Act was quite helpful. There was a review of NAMA carried out at that stage [presumably when the Board was appointed in March 2012] I met the advisors last week and they said to me “Do you want us to continue because we have been with NAMA all day and we actually think that the difficulties they had have been overcome and that they’re an effective organisation” “Yeah”, I said “I’d like you to continue. I need you at the end of a phone to give me advice, that I can have conversations that are based on the opinion of people who have experience in the property market, rather than personal opinon”
So although the NAMA advisory board mightn’t think it still has usefulness, Minister Noonan knows better and relies on it for “non-personal opinion” on matters based on their experience in the property market. So what experience do the trio in the advisory board have in property, and particularly, the Irish property market where NAMA has by far the biggest extant exposure?
In the Dail this week, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson asked Minister Noonan for the qualifications and experience of the NAMA advisory board in Irish property. This is the full exchange:
“Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance the qualifications and experience of the National Asset Management Agency advisory board with respect to the Irish property markets.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I may remind the Deputy that the NAMA Advisory Group has been set up to advise me in the following areas:
– The strategy of NAMA.
– The appointment of directors to NAMA.
– The remuneration of senior executives in NAMA.
– Any further advice I may seek of them.
The Advisory Group was established under a Direction Order issued by me under Section 14 of the NAMA Act.
The group operates on an informal basis and reports directly to me. Each of the members of the group have specific and significant private sector experience.
The responsibility for the running of NAMA lies with the NAMA Board, as laid out in the NAMA Act 2009. There is no role for the Advisory Group in dealings with the stakeholders of NAMA other than through discussions with me in my position as Minister.”
Seems like a direct question, which goes to the heart of keeping the NAMA advisory board following Minister Noonan’s statements last week. The response omits reference to the direct question. But let’s see if we can improvise.
Frank Daly is a career civil servant, latterly in the Revenue Commissioners and no doubt has some recent experience of the Irish property market from his time chairing NAMA, but he is hardly the most qualified in the field. Denis Rooney is the Northern Ireland quango king whose business interests in Northern Ireland will no doubt have touched on property, but what experience or qualification does he have which would help him on this side of the Border? And lastly, career banker Michael Geoghegan has a lifetime of experience but practically none in Ireland.