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PAC calls for Dáil debate on future use of NAMA funds

Ireland's political financial watchdog has demanded a full Dáil debate on how millions of euro in excess NAMA funds will be used in the future amid concern over Government claims the money will only be used to pay off the national debt.

The Dáil's public accounts committee agreed the move this morning in response to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's claims this week the funds need to be ring-fenced for non-frontline service matters.

Speaking at the start of the latest PAC meeting, committee chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said there is a need to contact the Dáil and seek a debate most likely immediately after the Christmas break.

While saying the PAC should not give a specific recommendation on how NAMA's excess funds should be spent "as I might disagree with you or you with me", Mr Fleming said a general motion to the Dáil would allow a debate on the issue.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy agreed, saying she was particularly concerned at Mr Varadkar's recent comments the money will be used to help pay off the national debt.

Saying "I don't agree with that", Ms Murphy said there is a need to discuss whether the excess NAMA funds should instead be used for vital and under-resourced frontline services.

Noting there is no EU rule for the money to be spent on paying down the national debt, Ms Murphy said she is concerned the Government is using Europe as a cover for re-directing the NAMA money.

Ms Murphy raised questions over what will ultimately come from a PAC call for a Dáil debate on how the NAMA money issue unless it is given greater focus on how the money should in fact be spent.

However, Mr Fleming said the reason why the debate request needs to be kept general is because there is not an agreed view from the PAC at this stage as to how exactly the money should be used when NAMA is eventually wound down.