Revealed -- NAMA exec and Vita Cortex boss
THEY look like two best friends enjoying a well-earned rest.
NAMA's deputy head of portfolio management Michael Moriarty relaxes with an ice-cream. Beside him is Vita Cortex owner Jack Ronan.
Mr Moriarty is wearing a Durkan Homes-sponsored cycling top. The photo was taken while the two were on a cycling trip in South Africa in 2005, before the property crash and economic crisis.
In a previous role, Mr Moriarty was the managing director of CB HOK Investors, which helped set up property deals for the wealthy. He moved to Goodbody Stockbrokers in 2006 before joining NAMA.
The agency is now in negotiations with Mr Ronan, having seized several of the businessman's assets.
Workers involved in a 55-day sit-in at the Vita Cortex plant in Cork reacted angrily when the holiday photo emerged. But NAMA insisted there is no conflict of interest, now that the country's 'bad bank' is involved with Mr Ronan's business affairs.
The Vita Cortex workers said they are "unsettled" by the seemingly close ties between Mr Ronan, whose company has not paid them redundancy money, and a senior executive with NAMA.
The agency confirmed Mr Moriarty had been on a number of overseas cycling trips with Mr Ronan.
"Before 2008, Michael Moriarty was on a number of overseas cycling trips in groups of about 10 people in which Jack Ronan participated," it said.
But it told the Herald: "Any suggestions of any inappropriate association or business dealings by Mr Moriarty with Jack Ronan are denied.
"Since joining NAMA, Michael Moriarty has provided a full disclosure statement and he has not been involved in any matter pertaining to Mr Ronan or his associates in line with NAMA's policy of avoiding potential conflicts of interest."
As far as Mr Moriarty is aware, Mr Ronan did not participate in any property transaction which was promoted by HOK Investors.
NAMA added: "Any other business relationship which Jack Ronan may have had with HOK predated Mr Moriarty's time there but in any case had nothing to do with Mr Moriarty."
Meanwhile, a group of TDs from across the political spectrum has united in a bid to ensure that the Vita Cortex workers receive their non-statutory redundancy payments.
Thirty-two workers have been engaged in a sit-in at the Cork foam packaging plant for more than seven weeks.
A group of seven TDs and one senator, including Minister Kathleen Lynch and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin met the workers at the disused factory in Ballyphehane yesterday and promised to do everything in their power to help them.