Chairman of PAC claims Michael Noonan 'lost it' in Dáil

The Finance Minister attacked the PAC after they criticised him in their Project Eagle report

Chairman of PAC claims Michael Noonan 'lost it' in Dáil

Public Accounts Committee Chair Sean Fleming (FF). Image: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee claims the Finance Minister ' lost it' in the Dáil last night.

Michael Noonan accused the PAC of conjuring up "unjustified and unfounded" criticisms of him and department officials in its report on the sale of NAMA's Northern Ireland loanbook (known as Project Eagle).

The committee said it was "not procedurally appropriate" for Minister Noonan to meet with the successful bidder, Cerberus, the day before the closing date for the sale.

In the Dáil yesterday, the Finance Minister - who has refuted any suggestion that he acted inappropriately - claimed the criticisms were leaked to the press, "presumably by a member" of the PAC, before the report was finalised.

He said: "I can only assume that the information was leaked in an effort to secure its inclusion in the final report, an action which, unfortunately, has politicised and compromised the integrity of the Committee of Public Accounts itself."

PAC chairman and Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming in turn claimed Michael Noonan threatened him with an injunction over the report.

Today, Deputy Fleming says he stands over his remarks.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "I think Michael Noonan lost it last night in the Dáil. Sean Fleming doesn't make false statements - I didn't make false statements. What I said I stand over."

Deputy Fleming explained that he met with Minister Noonan a few hours after the PAC received a letter highlighting 'major concerns' about their working document.

"When he spoke to me [...] we had a straight conversation - I'll just put it that way," he recalled. "He concluded the conversation by saying he could injunct the committee from issuing any report.

"In the context of the letter he'd given us a few hours later, it was a very serious issue."