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Michael Noonan WILL appear before the Public Accounts Committee to answer questions over Nama

Noonan made the announcement this evening.

MINISTER FOR FINANCE Michael Noonan has announced that he will appear before the Public Accounts Committee to answer questions over the sale of the National Assets Management Agency’s (Nama’s) Northern Ireland loan portfolio.

Noonan announced the decision tonight after coming under fire from opposition politicians in recent days.

“I have today decided to accept the invitation of the Committee of Public Accounts to assist the Committee in its examination of the C&AG’s Special Report on the National Asset Management Agency’s sale of Project Eagle,” Noonan said in a statement this evening.

“I intend to reply by letter to the Committee of Public Accounts to confirm this and to request assurances from the Committee that the proceedings of the Committee will be conducted in line with its terms of reference.”

Other Fine Gael politicians previously stated that ministers should not go before the powerful Oireachtas committee, but Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin were adamant that Noonan has questions to answer over Nama’s decision to proceed with the controversial multi-billion sale of assets to a US vulture fund.

The transaction may have lost the State hundreds of millions of euro, according to the recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the State watchdog charged with overseeing Nama’s operations.

Health

Noonan returned to work after a week in hospital where he was treated for cellulitis, a painful skin condition.

The 73-year-old Limerick TD gave a rousing performance at this morning’s Budget Oversight Committee, after missing a scheduled jobs announcement in Limerick yesterday while he was discharged from a hospital in south Dublin.

It’s understood the skin condition has not entirely gone away, but has abated enough to allow Noonan return to his ministerial duties.

“He returned to work yesterday,” a spokesman at the Department of Finance said this lunchtime.

He’s fine, no problem. I’m not GP, but as far as I can tell he’s fine, yeah. He’s had an infection that was treated, and it’s clearing up.

Asked whether the Minister had specific named medical conditions other than the cellulitis for which he was treated, the spokesman said he wouldn’t comment on another person’s medical records, and said it’s not a good idea for anyone to do so unless they’re a GP.

The spokesman added:

He’ll be delivering the Budget speech in October, and I presume he’ll be delivering the next two Budget speeches after that, and maybe more after that too.

The Department of Finance also confirmed that the Budget Day this year will be Tuesday 11 October.

The PAC

The Department of Finance had said earlier that the Finance Minister’s health would not affect whether he appears before the PAC or not.

“He’s at a committee right now, he’s appearing before a committee right now,” spokesman said.

“There you go, so I don’t think his health has anything to do with committee appearances, that shows you – or should show a sane individual anyway, yeah.

“He’s reviewing the invitation,” the spokesman added, “and will respond to the chairman of the PAC in due course.

It’s not usual for a minister to attend the PAC, the Department of Finance will co-operate fully with the PAC as we always will.

Noonan hosp

Series of health scares

Michael Noonan has had a series of health scares in the past two years.

It’s understood the latest infection is not related to the sarcoma (a form of skin cancer) for which the Minister received treatment in 2014 and 2015, after he found a lump on his arm.

In February of 2015 he was also treated for a separate eye condition that, he later joked, made him look like Johnny Sexton. Last Christmas Noonan was laid low by pneumonia, meanwhile.

Last week, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe dismissed concerns that his senior colleague’s health may affect his ability to deal with the Government’s appeal of the Apple decision, the forthcoming Budget and the unfolding Nama affair.

Noonan Paschal 3 Paschal Donohoe and Michael Noonan following the European Comission decision on Apple. Source: Rollingnews.ie

Missed Cabinet meeting

Noonan was absent from last Wednesday’s Cabinet discussion about the C&AG report, but is reported to have partaken in the discussion via telephone from his hospital bed.

“Rarely have I worked with any individual who has the level of vigour, expertise and energy in relation to the role,” Donohoe said at the time.

He also said Noonan was fully involved in the discussion on the C&AG report, and would be “returning to deal with those matters soon”.

Read: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are rowing over whether Michael Noonan should go before the Public Accounts Committee

Read: There will be a Commission of Investigation into Nama over Project Eagle

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