The National Asset Management Agency has been criticised for the way its officials appear prioritise the organisation over the people it deals with.

At the conclusion of a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee with NAMA officials, chairman John McGuinness criticised the way the agency handles complaints from the public. 

The family of a Tipperary farmer who took his own life met with the PAC members in private session yesterday. 

They are in the middle of a court battle with NAMA and they are aggrieved at the way they are being treated.

"It saddens me to be part of a parliament that created legislation that would bring about the type of grief that I heard explained to me yesterday,” said Mr McGuinness. 

“And I just wonder how as parliamentarians and legislators, can we correct that?”

NAMA was established five years ago to acquire assets from struggling banks, with a view to eventually selling them off to repay debt.

Agency chief executive Brendan McDonagh said NAMA has generated €23.2bn in cash since its inception, €16.6bn of which has been used to redeem bonds.

This puts them half way towards their debt total of €31.8bn, he said.

Brendan McDonagh said the agency had redeemed €16.6bn worth of bonds to date, which put it half way towards its debt total of €31.8bn.

In his opening address to the PAC, Mr McDonagh said improved market conditions meant that Irish taxpayers' contingent liability exposure was close to €40bn in 2013 to IBRC and NAMA but over the past year that has been reduced to €13.6bn.

Mr McDonagh also defended the agency over criticism in the way it deals with debtors.

He said NAMA had been accused of being too lenient and too demanding of debtors at different times, and he disagreed with both assertions.

"Our approach is very clear, consistent and straightforward: we look for settlements with debtors which are fair and reasonable by reference to the assets available and by reference to the interests of all parties, including taxpayers,” he said.

"The NAMA Board has a statutory obligation to pursue debtors so as to secure the best achievable outcome for taxpayers.”

He also highlighted the agency’s work in trying to fulfil its social mandate, saying that they had identified a former hotel in Tallaght, Dublin which could be used as accommodation for the homeless.

NAMA was also making a contribution to the problem in the residential housing market in Dublin.

New board appointed to NTMA

A new board has been announced for the National Treasury Management Agency by Minister for Finance Minister Noonan. 

The development puts the new board on statutory footing. 

Mr Noonan said the national debt "is over €200bn so we need serious people who are not frightened by big balance sheets."

Yesterday €9bn of International Monetary Fund loans were refinanced, which the Department of Finance said would save the State €750m in interest payments.

Around €150m of those savings would come next year.

Mr Noonan has also announced the appointment of Nick Ashmore as CEO of the Strategic Banking Corporation.