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  1. ITV Report

Nama performance 'testament to Irish recovery'

The Irish finance minister says the performance of Nama is "a testament to the strength of our economy and the journey we have made".

Ireland's so-called 'bad bank', set up to clear toxic property loans from five banks is set to wipe out its €30 billion debt three years ahead of schedule.

Paschal Donohoe said this was a remarkable achievement and a landmark day in the turnaround in the Irish economy since the international bail out in 2010.

The creation of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) was announced in 2009 with tens of billions of cash set aside to buy property linked loan books from the five main Irish lenders at a massive discount.

Its portfolio has included many iconic sites and buildings, including London's Battersea power station, which was sold in 2012.

"This is a remarkable achievement and a landmark day in Ireland's recovery from the financial crisis, which every day we leave further behind," Mr Donohoe said.

He added, "Nama's performance has always, to some degree, been linked to Ireland's recovery."

Nama is forecasting that it will have three billion euro when it is fully wound down.

The agency's chairman Frank Daly said the redemption of debt was something some people thought could not be done when it was set up.

"This reflects the enormous progress that Nama has made since its first loan acquisition over seven years ago," he said.

"Since inception, the Nama board, mindful of the wider impact on the financial standing of Ireland, has unwaveringly focused on eliminating this senior debt. Nevertheless, this achievement does not mean that Nama's work is completed."

The so-called 'bad bank' was set up in 2009 to help divest Irish banks of risky loans

Nama still has a portfolio of about four billion euro on its books, including assets in the Dublin Docklands and smaller loans.

The agency has not been without its critics.

One of its biggest sales, known as Project Eagle, was a 1.1 billion euro deal with US investment fund Cerberus for almost 1,000 properties in Northern Ireland.

The UK's National Crime Agency and US authorities launched investigations into allegations of corruption and financial irregularities behind the deal.

A disputed report by Ireland's Public Accounts Committee criticised then-finance minister Michael Noonan for meeting senior Cerberus representatives the day before the Project Eagle bid closing date and described the deal as "seriously deficient".