Opening Bell: NAMA row erupts in Dáil, Coillte's new deal, post office woes

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Michael Noonan accused the Public Accounts Committee of conjuring up unfounded criticisms of him in its report on the sale of NAMA's Northern Ireland loanbook.

In turn, the chair of the committee revealed Michael Noonan threaten him with an injunction over the report.

The heated exchanges in the Dáil tonight saw both the Minister for Finance and PAC chair Seán Fleming calling on each other to resign.

Noonan said:

"In his interview he gave the impression that I had deliberately concealed the fact that I had met Mr Jon Snow of Cerberus. And that this was why the PAC did not ask me about the meeting during the five hours of evidence I gave before them.

"In light of the false allegations made by Deputy Fleming on the day the report was published, I am formerly requesting that he clarify his position at the next meeting of the PAC.

Seán Fleming told the Dáil that he believed Noonan's words to be inappropriate and called the reaction "more of the same bluster". Directly addressing Noonan, he said:

"Well I'll tell you this, we'll be here long after you're gone."

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Coillte has entered into a €68 million partnership with energy giant BP and UK chemical company Accsys Technologies, The Irish Times reports.

The State forestry agency will join the two companies to open a factory in Hull, England, which will make Tricoya wood chips treated with special chemicals.

These will then be used in the manufacture of MDF fibreboards at Coillte's Medite plant in Clonmel.

The fibreboards can be used in outside environments where it was impossible to use MDF previously, opening up new markets for use in new weather-proofed products.

Coillte chief executive Fergal Leamy said the deal would help ensure the long-term sustainability of the Medite plant, which employs 160 workers.

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The number of houses available for sale in Ireland has hit a new low, according to Sherry Fitzgerald.

The country's biggest estate agent has revealed that the number of units on sale in the Republic fell by 17% to 22,100 year-on-year in January.

It means a mere 1.2% of the total private housing stock in the country is available to buy.

The situation in Dublin is particularly dire, with just 2,8000 properties advertised in January. This represented a year-on-year drop of 30%, and just 0.6% of the capital's private housing stock.

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The union representing postmasters has described a new service allowing adults to renew passports online as "another nail in the coffin" for post offices.

The online system will mean only children and first-time applicants will still have to apply for their passports through the post.

It's one of the issues that will be raised this morning when the Postmasters' Union meets with the Minister for Regional Development Michael Ring to discuss the future of Irish post offices.

General Secretary of the union, Ned O'Hara, says post offices will lose out because of the online passport renewal scheme:

"The major income for postmasters. It is one of the most effective services that we currently have and one of the newest services that we have. So in that context, any threat to it, we would be worried about."