Lenihan 'Hysterical' Over NAMA, Say Opposition

Fine Gael have branded the Dáil finance minister's response this morning to criticism over the national assets agency plan as "hysterical".

Minister Lenihan leapt to the defence of the Government's proposal for the implementation of the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), which would buy up the state's toxic debts, after a ream of criticism over the scheme by opposition parties, especially the Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton.

The scheme also came under fire in a published letter by some 20 of the countries leading economists, who claimed a plan of nationalisation for the banks would be a less risky and costly alternative.

However, Mr Lenihan criticised the dissent against his policy, saying: "I am very concerned about the use of this nationalisation word in the debate because I believe with the general public it seems to connote an idea that somehow there is something we can get for nothing here."

He said it would cost €4 billion to compensate the shareholders of AIB and the Bank of Ireland if they were taken into state ownership and he claimed it would then be far more difficult to keep them funded.

Now the Fine Gael party have called his response "hysterical" adding that the NAMA plan was falling apart.

Fine Gael's George Lee said: "The hysterical attacks by Brian Lenihan yesterday on Richard Bruton are the surest sign that the Fianna Fail attempt to bail out their banker and developer supporters via the NAMA gamble is beginning to fall apart.

"The Fianna Fail attacks on Richard Bruton would be laughable if it wasn't such a serious issue."

Mr Lenihan is expected to produce a final draft of the NAMA legislation before the Dáil returns on September 16.


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