Nama deal is a boost for town

Dromore can look to a brighter future, free from the shackles of the Republic of Ireland’s so-called ‘bad bank’.

That’s the hope, at least, to emerge after news that the Republic’s National Asset Management Agency - whose inability to sell a site has been credited with costing Dromore a proposed new factory and associated jobs - had sold its entire Northern Ireland property loan portfolio.

Set up to handle property loans made by the Republic of Ireland’s banks before the financial crash, Nama held substantial properties in the area.

Dromore Parnership Chairman and Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the Nama move was a welcome one.

“This is good news,” he said, “as there are major landholdings in the Dromore area involved.”

Mr Donaldson said he and many others had been frustrated for some time as Nama had been unable to sell land.

It was that inability to sell a site, he said, that had stifled the plans of a “significant investor” to a build a factory in the Dromore area.

“This cost us significant jobs at a time when we’re trying to boost the local economy after the recession,” he said.

“Hopefully many log-jams will now be broken and this type of development will be able to go ahead.”

The Nama portfolio buyer is New-York based international investment firm Cerberus Capital Management.

It is understood Cerberus paid more than £1bn for properties including office blocks, shopping developments, pubs, hotels and development land, with the Northern Ireland deal representing its largest single transaction.

First Minister Peter Robinson said the sale was “excellent news” for the Northern Ireland economy.

“For some time I have made clear the danger to the local economy of leaving valuable assets undeveloped and the threat that these posed to otherwise profitable businesses,” he said.