More than a week after the NAMA scandal broke, Peter Robinson last night spoke out firmly to state that neither he, his party nor his family stood to benefit from the £1.1 billion financial transaction.
The First Minister gave two televised interviews in which he robustly defended his level of involvement in discussions prior to last April’s deal to sell 850 assets to giant US fund Cerberus, saying that in meetings prior to the sale there was “no vulgar talk about fees”.
And the DUP leader rounded on unidentified critics of his son, Gareth, who has also denied any involvement in a transaction which is under massive scrutiny.
Mr Robinson said that “some sources” are “not so much getting at him; they’re trying to get at me”.
The News Letter has obtained a copy of a document which Mr Robinson sent to NAMA last January, an action which Sinn Fein claim he did without informing Martin McGuinness.
But Mr Robinson told the BBC: “Of course, Martin McGuinness was given a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding...all of these things will come out in the fullness of time.”
Mr Robinson was asked about his links to Frank Cushnahan, the former NAMA adviser who the Dail was told was to get £5 million as part of a deal which fell through, and Ian Coulter, the lawyer who allegedly transferred £7m of the transaction fees into an off shore account which he controlled.
Mr Robinson said that he has “a good relationship with both of them” and described Mr Cushnahan, a former banker and former chairman of the firm Red Sky, as “a significant supporter of the Executive”.
Mr Robinson added: “I don’t think we should rush to make villains out of people. I believe in British justice; let the investigation take place...”
When asked to state for the record that neither he, his family nor his party were to receive money from the deal, Mr Robinson said “well, I’m somewhat offended by the question”, before going on to say categorically: “I have lived my public life on the basis of doing things for the public and in the public interest. Not one penny was coming to anybody in my family or the party as a result of this deal.”
On Tuesday night, the DUP warned the media against repeating lurid allegations made on the internet. The party said: “This will be the subject of legal instructions in the morning. Anyone who repeats, refers, retweets or links to the contents of this article will be joined to the action.”
Yesterday, Mr Robinson alluded to that, referring to “the village idiots who can work something in terms of social media”. But he appeared to indicate that he will now not take court action, saying “they don’t have any money so you can’t sue them”.