Energy Resources: Motion (Resumed)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 730 No. 4

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Martin Ferris on Tuesday, 19 April 2011:

and that the revenues that would accrue from this would provide towards the resources for long term and sustainable growth in place of the current indenture to the EU and IMF because of the unsustainable bank debt.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:

further recognises that, having regard to the fact that only four commercial discoveries of petroleum have been made in the Irish offshore since the 1970s and to the significant costs involved in exploring for oil and gas in the deep waters of the Irish Atlantic Margin, [691]that the cost of such exploration should be borne at this time by industry and not by the taxpayer.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  There are two minutes apiece for Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Catherine Murphy and Maureen O’Sullivan.

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  Nuair a smaonaím ar cheist na Coiribe ceapaim go bhfuil sé do-chreidthe gur theip orainn ár n-acmhainní nádúrtha a choimeád ar son muintir na hÉireann. The previous Government took a number of decisions in regard to Corrib gas that have been proven to be, according to one journalist, “at best incompetent and at worst downright reckless”. The rot began when that Government neglected to pay proper attention to regulating the exploration industry in the best interest of the country. Now the exploration companies can join the bankers and developers who contributed to the current state of the country.

Everything seems to have been done by previous Ministers to ease Shell’s passage through Erris, with compulsory purchase of farmland and the ignoring of communities and areas of conservation and the fact that the gas pipeline was close to a village. All this went to a multinational company with massive profits and a poor record in human rights and looking after the environment.

Governments throughout the world will ensure that any deals negotiated with gas and oil companies will bring a fair share of the revenue to their countries. At this point, however, instead of bringing revenue to our country it is costing us money, with an enormous bill for Garda overtime. It must also be asked if burning yet more fossil fuels is justified when we consider global warming and global justice and the effects on the fishing and tourism industries in the area.

Another natural resource is forests. It seems Coillte may also join that elite group which have mismanaged millions of euro in grants and payments and are now in debt.

There is merit in both the original motion and the amendment, which takes on issues in the motion. This issue is not about the upcoming vote but about maintaining our natural resources, both those current and those to date untapped, for our country rather than to swell the profits of multinational companies. Let us be guided by principles of justice and ethics when we look at the resources in oil, gas and minerals and in consequence do what is in the best interest of this country.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  The Shell to Sea campaign has done this country a service in that it drew attention to the great resource giveaway. The Atlantic margin off the west coast contains 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent, amounting to €800 billion at 2011 prices. Although very considerable sums have been expended in finding and extracting that gas the fact that we get little or no return on it is a complete scandal. We have not only given away this resource, which is increasing in value all the time, but have given away security of supply. In addition, we will not get much needed onshore jobs and in return will have to pay the full international market price to reimport the product.

International studies seem to show Ireland is at the bottom of the league in terms of state share of revenue in contrast with most countries which retain either some of the revenue or, at very least, some control. A disgraceful decision was made on the day the last Government fell, whereby a licence to explore onshore gas in the Lough Allen basin was granted although it is estimated a potential €94 billion of gas could be extracted there. That is not a deep-sea area and the gas would be cheaper to extract.

[692]At a time when we are counting our pennies in terms of the public services — the Minister will know all about the penny-pinching that has to go on — we are giving this away, directly. It is an absolute disgrace. At the very least those contracts need to be revisited and altered in order that there is a return for the people of this country.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  I support this motion and oppose both the Fianna Fáil and the Government’s amendments. Fianna Fáil must make up its mind on this issue. A type of split personality syndrome is developing among the party’s Deputies. Are they in favour of taking back what Fianna Fáil Ministers disgracefully gave away? One of them, Ray Burke, was subsequently found to be corrupt. This amendment is nothing more than a kicking to touch.

Regarding the Government amendment, do the Labour Party Deputies on the opposite side have any bottom line? Is there any depth below which they are not prepared to go, or is being in Government the only policy or principle left to them?

The key issue is the establishment of a State oil, gas and mineral exploration company as the best way to ensure the estimated €800 billion worth of oil and gas, onshore and offshore, is developed in the interests of the people. It is the best way to ensure there is maximum financial benefit to the State, that jobs, infrastructure and expertise are developed in Ireland, there is security of supply, and the oil and gas are supplied to industry and homes in this country at reasonable prices.

The maintenance of the status quo does none of these things. It gives a measly financial return to the State. There are no guarantees of jobs or security of supply and oil and gas will be sold at home at international prices. We will gain nothing. The licensing system can be changed. This is an international trend as in, for example, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Norway etc. There is a choice for the Government. This is an even bigger giveaway than the bank bailout. It is not only economic treason but treason of the highest order.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Most of the points have been made. It is extraordinary that the Labour Party would not wish to do something urgently about this unbelievable giveaway of natural resources. In responses I have heard so far from the Government, it seems to be hiding behind lame excuses, claiming the finds of billions of euro of gas and oil equivalent off the west coast are not proven and consequently this justifies the extraordinary licensing arrangements whereby those who will develop——

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  How does the Deputy leave it?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  ——our gas and oil fields will give no royalties to the Irish people. We will have no security of supply for any gas or oil that may be found off the west coast and even in regard to the taxes which are in place the companies will get tax write-offs and effectively will pay no tax whatsoever. One could not get a better definition of a giveaway.

We are discussing a resource estimated to have a possible value of up to €800 billion or €900 billion at current oil and gas prices. It is extraordinary. Why do we have a licensing arrangement? Why do we continue to stand over such arrangements? When these companies find gas and oil we hand ownership over to them instead of having our own State gas and oil company which would retain ownership. Of course, we may need to have production sharing agreements or other arrangements with foreign gas and oil companies when we need their expertise but the notion of handing it all over to them is just extraordinary. The people of Rossport and Erris have suffered the consequences of Shell controlling the whole process.

[693]I appeal to the Government, for God’s sake, to do something about this unbelievable giveaway of our natural resources.

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  We seem to have a major problem with breaking contracts with big multinational firms but if one is a student nurse with a promise to be paid in one’s fourth year there does not seem to be any problem about breaking such a promise.

I noticed on the Department’s website in advance of the election a description stating we had one of the most attractive giveaways in the world. For many finds the State will make no more than 25% of corporation tax charged on profits after allowances are made. Any two-bit accountant would be able to move the money around in such a way a company need never have to pay on any profits. For very large finds the percentage goes up to only 40% which compares very unfavourably with other parts of the planet. One need not be necessarily left wing or right wing. It seems we got a bad deal full stop, no matter what way one looks at it. According to a report prepared by the former Minister of State, Conor Lenihan, in North America the minimum government stake is 42% and may rise to 60%, South American governments get between 25% and 90%, and the take in sub-Saharan Africa ranges from 44% to 85%. For some reason, we seem to settle for less, as usual.

Favourable licensing terms have been defended in the past on the basis that we still need to prove the potential of Irish waters to yields of sizeable oil and gas finds. That may have been a valid argument before but what is the point in changing the rules after everything is given away? It appears to me we will get nothing out of this and I cannot understand why other countries have managed to get something out of it but not us. Then again, all one need do is look back at the name of Ray Burke to see who is connected to this. One need not be a genius or expert on political history in this country to see that much. I would not have him sell my car and expect to get the full value back.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I am not unsympathetic to much of what is contained in the Sinn Féin motion but I welcome the Government amendment which takes on board the issues raised by Sinn Féin. The amendment recognises the need to maximise the value of any natural resources to the Irish people. It establishes that there will be an in-depth examination of the issue of how to maximise the gain for the State from exploration and future finds. This is set out in the amendment and it provides a specific time for when the committee would report, within six months of referral of the matter in question to it. The proposed committee would examine best practice worldwide and would be given the resources to invite world experts in the field to appear before it. All the people who have expressed a view could contribute to the work of the committee. I believe this is the correct approach.

The Sinn Féin motion refers to a 51% stake for the State. However, a study of the issue suggested a stake as little as 10%. For example, if this was applied to the Corrib gas fields, it could have given the State €1 billion. We must examine these matters and make a decision on the best approach. The Government amendment embraces the potential for different points of view, including that of Sinn Féin, to be examined, considered and taken on board. The issue of the stake the State receives from natural resource finds should be examined. A former Labour Party Minister, Justin Keating, introduced the 50% stake on royalties and that issue should be re-examined.

I do not accept the argument put forward to the effect that the arrangement is too expensive for the present regime. The companies which tend to carry out exploration take the risk. Shell is an obvious example. It takes the risk and a stake only kicks in once there is a find. I see no logic in the argument nor do I accept that because a business takes a risk, it should not have [694]to pay tax on the profits it makes. I agree with the idea of a stake. The issues of geothermal and wind energy must be considered, as must the issue of proper planning and public participation.

Deputy Noel Harrington: Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  I welcome the opportunity to speak on this issue. I live on the south-west coast and I have had the pleasure of fishing in the north-eastern Atlantic once or twice. Any time I go outside the door of my house I cannot smell oil or gas, I smell only salt. There is no resource there at the moment. It is an exploration effort.

A Deputy:  What?

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  It is just like the Deputy.

Deputy Noel Harrington: Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Oil companies drill for oil.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  The Deputy cannot smell it where she is living either.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Is that the Dáil bar or someplace?

Deputy Noel Harrington: Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  They have been drilling for oil since 1891 and they are the companies that do it best. However, it is a good debate. There is no question about having a good debate on this matter. In any other country where there is potential for oil finds or oil fields, it is invariably followed by civil strife, war or invasion. We are holding a debate in the House which must be welcomed.

There is a bigger picture. Neither oil nor other resources have been found although there has been a strong effort to locate them. There are difficulties in drilling in the north-eastern Atlantic and in Irish territorial waters. The further out one goes, the average depth of the Atlantic becomes a little under 3,500 m. The deepest well in the globe at the moment is pumping at 2,500 m. A technological problem arises aside from the location of resources by a desktop study.

Let us consider the matter from a global point of view. We have heard debates on the possible life remaining for the fossil fuel industry. I am unsure but some say up to 25 years and others up to 50 years. However, if it comes to pass in 50 years that we no longer depend on oil or gas as our global fuel, then it does not matter what is down there. It could be turf but there would be no point to it. I predict alternative technologies under development at the moment will drive the energy needs of the globe. There is a white line which must be reached between the investment, reaping the reward, providing for a fuel efficient economy and inviting the experts to discuss exploring and investing in finding natural resources.

Another debate arises which is more parochial and which relates to coastal communities. It is probably less romantic than the ideal of capturing billions from black gold. I am pleased there are Deputies from coastal areas present. Coastal communities could benefit from exploration efforts.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Who will own it? That is the question. Who will own wind energy, wave energy and tidal energy?

Deputy Noel Harrington: Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  We should benefit in the immediate term from the oil exploration effort but this is not happening. If we were to have some investment in our coastal communities to service the industry it could and should be welcomed. It is more parochial and is not as romantic as drawing out billions from black gold but we simply do not have it. I do not see the Americans seeking to invade us because we have wells of oil.

[695]Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  They are running the place already.

Deputy Noel Harrington: Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  I do not see the tankers coming from Whiddy Island or the ConocoPhillips project in Bantry Bay. Financially, they are practically on their knees at the moment. There is a reality here. Sometimes it is easy to look at the downsides of this industry, of which there are many. However, one must come back to reality at times and suggest the need to promote an industry and the exploration effort. Sometimes, God knows, one may need to support an industry that is best able and equipped and that has had the expertise since 1891 to find oil. They have not found it yet and I do not believe anyone in the Chamber can claim to have the expertise to overrule that view despite all the desktop studies which have been carried out. This is the crux of the matter. It is good to have the debate because in other places they have wars. We hope we can find it and benefit as best we can.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  I welcome the opportunity to speak on this evening’s motion, particularly given the role of south-west Cork in previous years in proving to be a successful base for commercial gas discoveries in this country.

In over 40 years drilling in Ireland, there have only been four commercial discoveries in total. Three out of these four discoveries were in the gas fields off Kinsale. This had the net effect of creating jobs for people and improving the local economy.

I welcome the fact Sinn Féin is moving this motion because it is important we have a robust and pragmatic debate on the future of oil and gas exploration in Ireland. There is a need to increase the level of exploration activity and to deepen our knowledge of the petroleum potential of the Irish offshore.

There is, however, also a need to be honest with people and suggestions by Sinn Féin that there are vast reserves of oil and gas potentially worth €700 billion, which Sinn Féin claims as justification for the imposition of a 50% tax on oil and gas profits, are completely at variance with reality.

Sinn Féin should no longer be allowed to propagate this myth. The party’s arguments are unrealistic and misleading, and ignore some basic but important facts, including the reality that the petroleum potential of the Irish offshore is largely unproven. Reports that Ireland has a reserve potential of 10 billion barrels of oil relate to potential reserves only. The truth of the matter is that Ireland’s proven reserves are only a fraction of 1 billion barrels. The actual reserves will not be known without a dramatic increase in the level of exploration drilling. The cost of exploring offshore Ireland is prohibitive due to the remoteness and water depth of our jurisdiction. To drill a single deep water well in the Atlantic can cost more than €100 million. We have limited infrastructure in terms of pipelines, termini and platforms that further push up the cost of development, which in turn adversely affects the commercial viability of small and marginal gas and oil discoveries.

There have been only four commercial discoveries in 40 years of drilling in this country. This compares with 300 commercial discoveries in Britain, primarily in the North Sea. Sinn Féin’s tendency to pitch our circumstances against those in Britain or Norway is as insincere an approach as is possible. It is completely out of sync with the facts of the situation.

Last night, in an eloquent rebuttal of the motion, the Minister for Energy and Communications put forward clear and convincing explanations for the rationale underpinning Ireland’s tax terms for oil and gas production. By contrast, it was disconcerting to see Deputies from Sinn Féin constantly referring to countries like Norway and Britain having a higher petroleum tax rate than Ireland. There comparisons are wholly inappropriate and do not stand up in terms of comparing like with like.

[696]Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  That is what the Minister, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, was saying two years ago.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  Sinn Féin argues that a high rate of tax has not stopped Norway and Britain from being successful petroleum producers. This is not a reasonable or logical line of argument. The fact that Norway and Britain are successful petroleum producers allows them to charge a high rate.

Other Deputies also suggested Ireland could draw on the experiences of countries like Russia and Venezuela. If anything, drawing comparisons between Ireland and Russia or Venezuela is even more inappropriate. Russia has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, while Venezuela has over 200 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

Like everyone else in this House, I am committed to the notion of generating revenue where possible and putting a stop on public expenditure in terms of getting value for money. If we pursue the logic of Sinn Féin not alone in its ridiculous approach to our involvement in the European Union but also in the leprechaun style of motions like this, we do nothing but raise the hopes of people in very difficult circumstances. All that is missing from this motion are black shoes, golden buckles and green hats. It is laughable.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  The Labour Party has become the supporter of the multinationals.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion. The primary reason for it is the Corrib gas debacle, which has been handled in a way that no one would see as an example for the development of natural resources. It is like the tourist in the middle of the bog in the midlands asking for directions to the Wicklow mountains and the local saying he would not start from there. We would not start from here if we were trying to optimise the value of our natural resources.

The problem is that we have been told we have 10 billion barrels of oil reserves, an accurate estimate, but 93% of Irish territory is underwater, with most of that in the Porcupine Bank and Seabight on the north-west seaboard. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Deputy Ferris sat with me on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security, where we proposed an agreed Bill on foreshore licensing to allow for the development of offshore wind and wave energy. The template involved the Marine Institute, and the exploration and mining section of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to do the research. To develop a company to do this is like asking Ireland to develop a car manufacturing company that can fine-tune electric vehicles, when there are already experts abroad and we get vehicle registration tax. Why would we do it?

It amazes me that the Government is challenged to ensure we protect our 12.5% corporation tax rate, which is an incentive to attract investment, while we have a 25% regime on profits from these natural resources. This must be changed. We are saying it is not high enough — but Sinn Féin cannot have its cake and eat it. We must get wells drilled and explore so we find the hot-spots that are then attractive to people so they come to us to ask for permission to drill wells.

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  There is nothing left to give away.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  One bad example does not mean we cannot amend it. We have a 25% tax regime on profits. If we do not license extra wells and find the bloody stuff, we will never create an industry. Deputy Flanagan does not know where they are, no more than I do.

[697]Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Inappropriate use of language. I was pulled up for the same thing.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  We have a general idea the resources are located in the 93% of our territory but we do not know where they are.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Deputy Doyle is accepting what the company tells him.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  The idea of a company is to take on all the risk. I accept that we give the task to our Marine Institute and that the oil exploration division of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources be given extra resources to assist but not to do the drilling at €100 million a pop, with a 10% hit rate.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Where is that figure coming from?

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  That is what it costs.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Those figures are coming from the companies. Whose figures are they? Where do the geology reports come from?

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Does Deputy Ferris dispute that? I come in here to make reasonable points. We want to find and develop our natural resources. We will not achieve that by having an adversarial debate here.

The Government amendment recognises the need to evolve the whole tariff and tax regime. Both Britain and Norway have abolished royalties, they have tax regimes. As we find oil and gas and develop an industry, people will come to us looking for a piece of the action and we will then be able to charge higher tax rates; it is recommended they increase from 25% to 40%. We can do this but the manner proposed by Sinn Féin will not achieve it, it will turn people away. If we even had €1 billion left where we could dig 20 wells at €50 million each with the chance of finding one oil field, I would not recommend it. However, we do not have that money.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  The banks have it.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  I welcome the opportunity to discuss this important and emotive issue.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  There is a lot of oil in Tipperary.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  It is vital that we should debate this matter at a time when so many people are unemployed and when the phrase on everyone’s lips is “jobs, jobs, jobs”. There are over 400,000 individuals who cannot obtain employment but who would give almost anything to get a job. These people have begun looking in different directions, and particularly towards our natural resources, in order to see if there is any hope for our country.

There is always tension with regard to the risks and rewards which mark all aspects of the energy business and the exploration and development sectors generally. Retrospective changes in the terms of licences would send a negative message to our foreign direct investment partners and, specifically, to the high-investment exploration business which relies on highly skilled employees. At a time of such unemployment, the taxing of this sector out of existence could hardly be considered a wise move. While the Government is seeking to open the door to development and exploration and is declaring the country open for business, the motion tabled by Sinn Féin clearly intends to slam the door shut.

Everybody agrees that the regulatory process in Ireland is cumbersome. That fact is recognised in the programme for Government. It is the aim of this Administration to streamline the [698]system. That aim was welcomed by Engineers Ireland at its recent conference. It will be discussed further at the forthcoming Energy Ireland conference.

We will all benefit from exploration relating to and development of our natural resources, be they mineral deposits, hydrocarbon reserves, wind or wave energy. In view of the high investment potential for the economy, such exploration and development must be encouraged. Killybegs has shown that the industries to which I refer can coexist in harmony with indigenous industries such as fishing. To progress the development and in order to understand the reality of the reserves, investment is necessary to obtain new and additional data from seismic and drilling results.

I fully support the efforts of the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, and I welcome the 2011 offshore licensing round as a positive step in attracting the necessary investment. The licensing round must be endorsed because the investment to which I refer provides badly needed jobs. In addition, it will assist us in more accurately determining the extent of our hydrocarbon reserves. The figures relating to untapped potential have not been established as fact. The oil in question has yet to be found. There is no guarantee with regard to the billions of euro to which the motion refers. There must, therefore, be investment in the exploration sector. Until the oil is discovered, it is not an asset because 100% of nothing is nothing. This is a fact of which other sectors of the economy are all too well aware.

Gas is universally recognised as a bridge to a fully renewable energy economy. It is a transition fuel to the green energy future. The motion tabled by Sinn Féin is incredible in that it seeks to retard our economic and energy progress through future taxation and through the intention to kill off any future investment in discovering our natural resources.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  We want to take ownership of our own resources.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Let us bring ashore what has been discovered and then go and discover more in order that we might create jobs for the 450,000 people who are out of work and the 200,000 who have left our shores for America and Australia.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Why did they leave?

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  We all have good jobs but the people to whom I refer——

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  They did so because they could not obtain employment in this capitalist economy that those in government are trying to operate.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Each week the members of the new Opposition engage in rhetoric rather than discussing jobs. They have not devoted any time to informing us how jobs will be created.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  What is the Government doing about jobs?

(Interruptions).

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  They have tabled a motion which would stop the young people of Ireland from obtaining employment. As the father of three unemployed people, I wish to state that those opposite should be ashamed of themselves. It is time they identified the areas in which jobs will be created.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  They will be created through public works programmes.

[699]Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  It was that lot who occupy some of the seats which the Deputy’s party used to occupy on this side of the House who lost all the jobs. Deputy Tom Hayes should not blame us for what they did.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Okay. I accept that.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this important issue. It is vital that this country should utilise its mineral resources to the best possible advantage of the economy. The quicker we do this the better. Unfortunately, the only thing we appear to do with any speed is allow matters to move inexorably in a downward direction.

Having previously served as a member of the Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, I understand why the motion was tabled. Other speakers referred to the emotive nature of the motion. Some of the information that is available in the public arena in respect of the potential that exists with regard to gas, oil and other minerals is not accurate. In fact, it is vastly exaggerated. Proof of this is the fact that exploration efforts to date have shown only limited results. The comparison with other countries such as, for example, Norway is not well made at all. The fact is that located close to Norway’s shores are reserves that are something of the order of seven times the known reserves of gas off our shores. We are not, therefore, comparing like with like. As far as I am aware, the success rate for wells drilled off our coastline is one in 34 or one in 37. The success rate in some other locations is one in seven. There is a vast difference.

The issue which arises is whether this country has the resources to engage in oil or gas exploration. In other words, is it in a position to purchase the drilling rigs and equipment that would be required? I accept that one of the Members opposite has experience in this area. That experience may be excellent but I assure those who tabled the motion that the information it contains is not accurate. There are plenty of studies which underline that point. Let us consider the options.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  The Department provided the information to which the Deputy refers.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Deputy has had his say. The position is that it is in the interests of the nation to maximise the economic benefit of whatever resources are at its disposal. It is also in the nation’s interest to bring those resources to shore by whatever means possible and as quickly as possible. There appears to be a reluctance in certain quarters to do this but that is a matter for another occasion.

It is important to recognise that if the Government wanted to invest in the drilling equipment required, then it would be obliged to have some answers for the people if it did not produce the desired results. It is as simple as that. At a time when the country is broke, there is no point in telling the people that a well was unsuccessful or that a find was not commercially viable. If we had resources to squander on exploration, then by all means we would proceed.

How should we move forward? The Government is taking the correct approach.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  That is the Fianna Fáil way.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Deputy already had his say.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  The Government has adopted the Fianna Fáil approach.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The case will be made to the effect that there are huge resources available and that we should turn on the tap for the benefit of the people. I will provide a [700]comparison. We have plenty of water in this country but we still cannot provide water in the way that would be envisaged by some Members to the vast majority of people.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  And the Government wants to charge people for it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  We are not obliged to drill for water because it is easily found. In fact, it falls on our heads with monotonous regularity and is impossible to miss.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  The Government wants to charge for it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  However, there is still not a proper system for delivering water to all citizens. If the case that has been made was accurate, then surely we would have begun producing and selling water to the rest of the world a long time ago.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  The Government wants to sell it to the people.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is in our interests to do what is right and what is best for the people. We should not mislead them and provide them with inaccurate information.

My final point also involves Norway and the Troll gas field which is located off its coast. That field is approximately 50 times the size of the Corrib gas field. We talk about investment in drilling and oil exploration. We should have it. Is it wise for the nation to take responsibility for it at this time? Following the 2007 licensing arrangement, it is not true that it is free.

It may be that our resources were given away readily in the past. However, from the 1970s a rigid regime was in place that did not produce anything, because the risk was too great. Should the private sector or the public sector take the risk? Should the taxpayers take the risk in this case? I say, no.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  With the permission of the House, I will share time with Deputies Sandra McLellan, Michael Colreavy, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Seán Crowe.

I have listened to the bluster about jobs and the economy. Nearly two years ago, Sinn Féin put forward job creation proposals. We are willing to discuss them with Members on the other side of the House. It is unfortunate that only one representative of the Labour Party, Deputy Rabbitte, remains in the Chamber. Labour Party Deputies have spoken like propagandists for Shell, instead of members of a political party that represents ordinary working people.

I wish to address some of the environmental concerns regarding the siting of the refinery at Bellanaboy. An Taisce has argued against the siting of the refinery at Bellanaboy because it locates a gas processing terminal within the catchment of a major water supply. It is very unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Agency inspector who carried out the investigation into this judged the Bellanaboy site acceptable, based on comparison with the St. Fergus terminal in Scotland. There are two key differences between the two sites. St. Fergus is less than 500 m from the landing point adjacent to the coastline, whereas the Bellanaboy site is miles inland. Second, St. Fergus poses no threat to drinking water because it is not located in a place where it could pollute public drinking water. An e-mail from the Scottish EPA to An Taisce reads: “When consulted on the location of major industrial facilities, Scottish EPA would normally recommend against placing such facilities at locations which could affect public drinking water sources.” Yet, as An Taisce points out, the Bellanaboy refinery is too close to the Carrowmore lake, which provides drinking water for more than 10,000 people.

During the process of constructing the site in 2006 and 2007 Mayo County Council’s monitoring system discovered substantial increases in the amount of aluminium in the Carrowmore [701]drinking supply, often substantially in excess of the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum level of 200 micrograms per litre. Even after Shell installed treatment equipment designed to deal with the problem, results dated 31 January 2007 showed aluminium levels at more than 200 times the maximum limit. This is unacceptable.

There is another reason to revisit this deal with Shell. Shell is a major polluter. Global warming is accepted by everyone in this House as a major threat to us all. One of the sources of global warming is increasingly being recognised as gas flaring, the practice where surplus combustible vapours are burned off from a well. It is the most significant source of air emissions from oil and gas installations.

In 2009 the World Bank estimated that around 150 billion cu. m of natural gas is flared every year, the equivalent of 30% of the gas consumption of the entire European Union. Gas flaring has caused more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined, thereby worsening climate change, which has damaging consequences for us all. Nigeria, and in particular Shell’s operations in Nigeria, is one of the worst offenders. This will continue until Governments around the world, but especially those in the global north, put pressure on the big oil and gas firms.

We need oil and gas, and we need to deal with exploration companies to get it if we have not established our own State company, as Sinn Féin have called for. Why must we reward the big polluters? Why do we have to work with corporations whose brand name is a byword for environmental destruction and unethical practices? Why can we not, both in Corrib and in any future licensing system, say to certain companies that we will not work with them until they clean up their act, not just here in Ireland, but in the global south as well?

Shell argues that the EPA, which is the competent authority in terms of integrated pollution prevention control licensing in Ireland, has confirmed that emissions from the Corrib gas terminal “will not adversely affect human health or the environment and will meet all relevant national and EU standards, when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence”. That is the key point. They are safe “when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence”. As has been shown in the Mayo courts, Shell has a habit of not acting in accordance with planning permission, building where it has no right to build and attempting to annex land. What gives us reason to believe it will act in accordance with the conditions of the proposed licence? Where exactly does Shell get off giving us a car salesman smile and saying “trust me”?

In Shell, we are dealing with a group of people whose approach to the environment has been to commission glossy advertising and hire PR firms around the world in the hope people will either not notice what they are doing elsewhere or will simply ignore it. There may be a new Government, but Shell is still calling the shots in Mayo, given what we are hearing today.

On this basis, I urge Members to vote in favour of our motion.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  Following on from my colleague, Deputy Brian Stanley, I would also like to raise some environmental concerns regarding the pipe Shell is building. The current plan from Shell sees a pipeline going up the Sruwaddacon through Broadhaven Bay. In late 2007 Shell consultants rejected this route, arguing that the estuarine and inter-tidal approaches were habitats within the meaning of the EU Habitats Directive and the bay was an integral part of the Glenamoy river salmon fishery. It is a special area of conservation and a special protection area. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government defines a special area of conservation as one of the “prime wildlife conservation areas in the country, considered to be important on a European as well as Irish level”. As a special protection area, the Department describes it as “one of the most important wetland complexes in the west, [702]supporting an excellent diversity of wintering winter-fowl species”. It is of note that seven of the species that occur regularly are listed on annexe I of the EU Birds Directive and are supposed to be the subject of special conservation measures. This is where Shell wants to put a pipeline.

In March, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Phil Hogan, granted a foreshore licence to Shell. This allows the developer to construct the final 8 km section of pipeline linking the gas field to the terminal built inland at Bellanaboy. An Taisce criticised the decision as it has legal proceedings with An Bord Pleanála on the decision to put the pipeline through a special area of conservation and felt the Minister should have waited until legal proceedings were finished.

The Irish Times observed:

As my colleague Deputy Brian Stanley said earlier, there may be a new Government, but it is still Shell calling the shots in Mayo.

In many countries, oil and gas reserves are not used to the benefit of the people. Energy multinationals operate as if they are above the law. In Rossport, Shell operates on this basis and the State actively facilitates it in doing so. However, there is no reason Ireland cannot take a different approach to the benefit of everyone equally. If the Government did what we suggest, took ownership of our natural resources and set our terms of engagement with the oil companies rather than dancing to their tune, there would be an opportunity to transform Irish society. If Norway can find oil and ensure it remains a more egalitarian welfare state, there is no reason Ireland cannot. For five years, Hugo Chávez delivered free heating oil to low income Americans when prices were sky-rocketing. Chávez kept donating fuel to poor Americans even when his oil revenues were decreasing. It is a pity that Fine Gael does not look to Latin America for some inspiration when it comes to our own natural resources.

The Government should look to other more progressive countries where control of oil and gas activities has been harnessed for the good of people rather than for multinationals. There must be a national dialogue about how to use our wealth of natural resources to our collective benefit. There has been much talk with little reason from the people who oppose the Sinn Féin motion. A total of €420 billion worth of oil and gas has been discovered under Irish waters over the past 15 years but the Irish people have not seen much of it. What we are seeing is more recession, more cutbacks, more poverty, more inequality and more profit-making by multinationals.

I will end my contribution to the debate with a quote from James Fintan Lalor which, although it must be at least 200 years old, is still appropriate. “The principle I state, and mean to stand on this, that the ownership of Ireland, moral and material, up to the sun and down to the centre is vested in the people of Ireland.” This includes the rights of the Irish people to our natural resources and is as true now as it was when it was first said.

[703]Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  I had a speech prepared for this debate but I will ignore it, having listened to what has passed for debate on this topic earlier. I will address some of the issues that arose during the so-called debate. I always seek to find areas in which agreement can be found and everyone will agree that this nation, our people, our economy and our dignity, demands that all negotiations regarding natural resources and exploration and extraction, should be professional, open, transparent and accountable. Also we would all agree that all exploration and extraction must be done using only proven safe technology and must be done in consultation with and with the informed consent of the majority of the people living in the areas where the exploration or extraction is being carried on. I think also that we would all agree that there must be a fair economic return to this State from the profits of whatever oil or gas, or whatever, is extracted and that all estimates and claims of amounts extracted and potential amounts to be extracted must be verified by qualified scientific and technical staff working on behalf of the State and not on behalf of the exploring or the extracting companies. I believe that only then will we have fairness and equity and transparency in the area of natural resources usage in this country.

I am saddened when I read the Government’s proposed amendment to the motion, the last paragraph of which states:

If this is the best opening position for a debate that this Government is using with the EU and the IMF, then good God, it is no wonder we are in the position we are in today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  The Deputy has two minutes remaining.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  What more can I say about it? Fine Gael and Labour are singing from the same hymn sheet and in fact, it is probably the same script. It is as if by repeating a mantra often enough people will believe it, particularly Labour people. I thought that Deputy Michael McCarthy’s contribution was, frankly, a little ill-mannered but it shows that the Labour Party is having difficulty with its about-turn on the policies and principles on this and other matters.

Sinn Féin will probably lose what will be a vote on our motion later this evening but I can guarantee that we are not going away and we will contribute forcefully but fairly in an Oireachtas committee which undoubtedly will be set up and must be set up to fix this patently broken and flawed policy. We will not give up and we will not sell out.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I too have a speech drawn up but I will move away from it. I was sitting in my office listening to the debate — as do all Deputies — to keep in touch with the debate before the time for my contribution. A Labour Party Deputy referred to this motion as a leprechaun motion. He spoke about black shoes and golden buckles and so on. He reminded me of Bertie Ahern when he was in my county of Donegal when he was challenged on the wisdom of the economic crisis and he referred to suicide. Now, Bertie Ahern is rightly damned. My warning to Government Deputies, in their arrogance and with their huge majority, is to very careful about statements like that at this time as they could come back to bite them on the backside at some stage in the future.

I will e-mail a copy of this report from the Centre for Public Inquiry entitled, The Great Corrib Gas Controversy, to all Labour and Fine Gael Deputies. I challenge them to read it. It [704]is a damning indictment of Government policy over the years. It is a very comprehensive report. The Centre for Public Inquiry was taken out by the political establishment, working with the media establishment, in order to block it from getting under the skin of what we all now know led to this economic catastrophe. There are very serious lessons for Labour Party Deputies in particular who would share many of our values. They should not come into the House to refer to a leprechaun motion. It is clear that the Government moved away from what were shaping up to be very good policies in the 1970s to set up a State oil and gas company to implement the promise of the 1916 Proclamation and the words of James Fintan Lalor and to start to do something right by the people. At one stage, the Norwegian Government was going to assist in that process. Somehow we moved from that approach in the 1970s through to Ray Burke’s giveaway, his selling out show, to Bertie Ahern’s continuation of that policy.

  8 o’clock

This was the agenda to the point that compulsory purchase orders were given in the interests of private companies. Compulsory purchase orders are meant to be used in the public interest, where private land is subservient to the public interest. Here was a compulsory purchase order introduced in the interests of private companies in order to make a profit in this country. We then wonder how we ended up in this economic mess with that type of culture. This was the prevailing culture. I do not need to remind the Deputies in this House of Ray Burke as he sat on the other side of the Chamber and gave all the assurances and how his political legacy now reads. This is the man who stood over the transition from the possibility of a State company to a wholesale selling of our resources. It ended with five, decent, honourable, salt of the earth men being locked up in jail for standing up for their rights. They were vindicated eventually by An Bord Pleanála. This is not leprechaun politics; this is a Sinn Féin party with an enhanced strength standing up for the interests of the communities we represent.

I was privileged to go down to west Mayo. I was ashamed to see private security officers and gardaí facilitating the destruction of a beach to allow a pipeline to be laid by a private company. Some of those security personnel have had interesting journeys in their lives since then. That is what we have. It is a shame and a scandal. It is part of the culture that led us to economic catastrophe. It was remarkable to hear the new Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, speaking last night. With the arrogance of his Government’s big majority, he said it would be wrong to change retrospectively the tax arrangements that are in place for Shell. He asked what message it would send to international investors. If that is the approach of those trying to negotiate a better deal with the EU and the IMF — God help Ireland if it is — what chance do we have?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I regret that the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, has had to leave the Chamber. The Minister made an interesting accusation in his speech about Deputy Ferris. He said “the Deputy was 30 years behind me then [in 1975] and he is 30 years behind me now”, which opens up an interesting debate about the political paths that have been travelled by people in this Chamber across the political spectrum. I suspect that time does not permit me to pursue that further. It is likely the Minister will be relieved to hear that.

Perhaps the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, might like to reflect on how far behind him he considers his party president, the much respected former Deputy, Michael D. Higgins, to be. Mr. Higgins has said that the decision of the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Carey, to sign key consents for the last section of the Corrib gas pipeline on the day of this year’s general election was “very wrong”. He continued:

[705]In his response to our motion, the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, did not reflect the points that had been made by Mr. Higgins. The Minister seems to think he is way ahead of all of us, including his party’s prospective presidential candidate.

In this regard, as in so many others, there has been a smooth handover and a remarkably trouble-free transition in policy terms from Fianna Fáil and the Green Party to Fine Gael and the Labour Party. The current Government is singing from the same hymn sheet as the previous one with regard to Corrib and our natural resources. It cannot be disputed that the Government’s amendment to the Sinn Féin motion before the House could just as easily have been written from the pen of the last Government. During the debate on the banking disaster report, Deputy Doherty reminded the House that during the 2002-2007 Dáil, Sinn Féin warned about the property bubble, the tax cuts for the wealthy and the failure to build the economy on solid foundations. We also warned about the giveaway of our natural resources.

During the 1997-2002 Dáil, when I was a lonely voice as the only Sinn Féin Deputy, I was among the few to raise the issue of the Corrib gas field as a prime example of the giveaway or robbery of the resources of the people. When I spoke during a debate on western development in 2001, I said that the giveaway of our natural resources from the Corrib field “could emerge as one of the greatest scandals”, which is exactly what has happened. I continued:

I refer to the sweetheart deal enjoyed by the consortium currently exploiting the massive Corrib gas field off the coast of County Mayo. This gas field is a hugely valuable national resource but it has been virtually handed over to a private company. The deal ... was done in 1992 and the Minister responsible was [none other than] former Deputy Ray Burke. I call for an investigation into Ray Burke’s role in negotiating the deal, enabling the consortium led by Enterprise to benefit from what is the lowest tax regime in Europe. My party, Sinn Féin, has consistently argued for the deal brokered by Ray Burke in 1992 to be renegotiated. The deal ensured that the consortium led by Enterprise has not had to pay one penny in royalties to the Government [or indeed to the people of Ireland] for the Corrib gas find and the consortium can write off exploration expenses against any tax payable ... It is a scandal that Irish national resources have been sold off at a knock-down price particularly when we look at the region involved, the neglected western seaboard. That somebody with Ray Burke’s track record was centrally involved in this deal must raise questions about the nature of the negotiation and its outcome. These matters need to be addressed and answered. SIPTU representatives who represent Irish oil workers have called for an inquiry and the Western Development Commission has questioned the Government’s handling of this resource.

A decade later, the truth is still being denied. I will conclude by calling again, as I did ten years ago, for a full investigation into the deal. We should not continue with this scandalous sell-out of the people’s natural and national resources.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  The Deputy could be——

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Go raibh míle maith agat, a iar-Aire.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  I suppose those who have spoken about leprechauns are referring to the perceived pot of gold which, as we have said in our motion, we want to go to the Irish people rather than to private companies. When the Minister responded to our motion, he did not say whether he thinks the current terms and conditions governing oil and gas represent a good deal for Ireland. Does anyone not working for Shell believe it was a good deal? Was the deal brokered by the bold Ray Burke a good deal for Ireland and its people or was it a good deal for Ray? We now know he gave unbridled access to the oil company applicant. Officials from his own Department advised against meeting representatives of the oil company, but Ray [706]knew better. He thought it was for the greater good. The deal that was signed was said to be great, but great for whom? Was this not a great little country for making deals? Without entering into libel country, most independent people who examine Ray’s cosy deal will probably say that the people and the Exchequer came off worst from it.

I listened to Deputy Ó Cuív last night when he proposed that the process of awarding offshore oil and gas exploration licences, and the controversy surrounding them, should be re-examined. In my view, any future inquiry by a committee should concentrate on the deal agreed by the disgraced politician Ray Burke. We know that local residents do not seem to think it was a good deal for them and their families. In 2005, five ordinary men from Rossport went to jail after Shell took out an injunction to try to prevent them from engaging in legitimate protest at the location or site of the pipeline, which the men claimed to be in dangerous proximity to their homes. We know that Shell made some alterations to the original route even though it had claimed that could not be done.

Many people in the local community remain strongly opposed to the pipeline, for which consent was given on the day of the election by the former Minister, Pat Carey. He signed the deal on his way out the door because he was unable to leave paperwork cluttering the desk. Was the deal that was signed by Pat Carey in the final days of the Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government a good deal for Ireland and its citizens? It reminds me of the last-minute deal with the religious orders that was signed by another former Fianna Fáil Minister, Michael Woods. That is an example of another great Fianna Fáil fair deal that is costing hard-pressed Irish taxpayers millions of euro. Any future committee inquiry should also examine the last-minute decision of the former Minister, Mr. Carey. Although both Fine Gael and the Labour Party have protested about the manner in which this consent was given, their Government has stood by it. Is it not reasonable to ask why that is the case? What has changed?

There is something of “Lanigan’s Ball” among the cast of characters who handed over our oil and gas. I refer to Ray Burke, Charlie, Bertie, Michael Lowry etc. Cameo appearances have been made by oil and gas executives. All of these people are part of the unhealthy relationship between certain people and those in power. Ray Burke was found to be guilty of corruption by the Flood tribunal over his role in securing planning permission for those with friends in court. Many of those decisions were not only corrupt but have proven to be disastrous for the development of Dublin. Much more money was involved and many more people benefitted greatly from it all. The potential value of the changes that Ray Burke made to the terms of the oil and gas deal is vastly more than the worth of all the rezoning scams in which he was involved. This is a clear case for making all the changes that were made subject to review.

Those who oppose the motion claim the State cannot afford to become involved in developing and controlling our natural resources. It is highly ironic to listen to those who are willing to pour massive amounts of money into the banks claim that public investment in areas that would create jobs and growth is a waste of money. The same people believe it is acceptable to condemn hundreds of thousands of people to poverty as a consequence of the bank bailout and austerity programme. They talk about job creation but refuse to consider ways of ensuring that the means to invest in jobs is made available.

It has been argued that locating oil and gas requires a great deal of science and a bit of luck. The science in the Ray Burke deal is more of the science fiction variety and the luck is with Shell and Ray Burke who appear to have got away with it.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  The motion on gas exploration tabled by Sinn Féin is a prime example of the Darby O’Gill school of economics.

[707]Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Here we go again.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Sinn Féin would like us to believe there is a crock of black gold at the end of the rainbow which has been ignored by Government. There is no such thing.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  The Labour Party has changed its tune.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  There is no magic wand that we can wave over the ocean to make millions of barrels of oil appear. It is a myth presented in this debate that our economic difficulties will be abated by the proposals in the motion. It is disingenuous for Sinn Féin to place before the House a motion which states there is oil and gas worth €700 billion off the coast of Ireland. An exploratory study was done which indicated that this quantity of oil is potentially available in Irish waters. It is inaccurate to claim it is in our waters because the figure is notional and based on an estimate.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  The Government accepted Shell’s figures.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Sinn Féin has presented a one size fits all approach to the tax and royalty regime for the oil industry. Such an approach ignores the fact that the oil and energy industry operates on a global basis. Ireland, in the current circumstances, cannot act in an isolated manner which discourages the investment required to uncover whatever natural resources are available off the coast. In the past 40 years, four oil and gas finds have been made, three of which were gas finds off the coast of County Cork at Kinsale while the fourth, which is under development, was a find off the coast of County Mayo at Corrib.

Last night, the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, explained that the Government’s position is to encourage and improve the rate of exploration and drilling to enhance the country’s prospects of a successful find. The performance, as distinct from the promise of the 1970s, has been relatively poor to date and greater activity should be encouraged to improve the prospects of a commercial find off the coast.

The Minister also indicated that once the reform committee structure is in place, he will be willing to go into committee for as long as is required to debate Government policy in this important area. He further indicated that it would be a matter for the committee to decide which other interests it wishes to hear from. I am sure that if the committee’s deliberations result in new, useful and affordable insights, the Minister will be glad to take them on board.

Tax incentives or penalties are not the issue in oil exploration. The issue is one of geology and economics and balancing risk and reward in a manner that will incentivise exploration and extraction. I will cite the example of one field that was drilled in the 1980s. It lies approximately 250 miles off the coast of Fenit in what is known as the Porcupine Basin. As Deputy Ferris will know, having frequently sailed the waters in that area, the area is treacherous.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Fair play to Deputy Ferris.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Drilling took place in these waters in summer months when there are swells of 20 ft. and 30 ft., which is the equivalent of two storeys in height. As a result, weeks can go by without a hole being drilled. That is the position at the height of the summer in Irish waters. In the North Sea drilling takes place in waters that are 200 ft. or 300 ft. deep, whereas drilling along the Irish coast is usually in waters that are in excess of 1,000 ft. deep. The quality of the oil extracted here is also different. The oil extracted in the Sahara Desert looks like a pint of Beamish, whereas in the North Sea and along the Irish coast the substance extracted is much thicker.

[708]It is curious that Sinn Féin proposes to impose a tax rate of 50% on certain corporations when two weeks ago it argued in favour of protecting our 12.5% corporation tax rate. It should take a consistent position. When the programme for Government was debated in the House, I argued that Opposition parties as well as the Government had an obligation to produce realistic proposals. Ireland is in a dire state and the Government and Opposition have a responsibility to help the country get back on its feet. Sinn Féin, through the motion, is perpetuating a myth, one which reflects the Darby O’Gill school of economics. Its policy on this matter does not stand up. Notwithstanding the party’s motivation, its motion is completely unrealistic.

The days of instant gratification, which was the style of politics pursued by the Fianna Fáil Party, are over. The idea that there is a quick fix solution to our economic problems is no longer accepted. It is regrettable, therefore, that Sinn Féin tabled this motion. I call on other Opposition Deputies to vote against the motion and see it for what it is.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Labour Party is putting forward Fianna Fáil policies. It has embraced them.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  I wish to share time with Deputy Pearse Doherty.

To listen to Deputies from the Government benches, one would imagine that Shell, Statoil and the great and good of the exploration world were in Ireland to enjoy the air or perhaps take to the high seas with Deputy Ferris. Deputy Lynch should go with them because he is clearly in need of some oxygen.

It has become clear in the course of the debate that the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, has adapted quickly to his new role, accepting on face value the advice given by his officials. What this means is that he has become a mouthpiece for the position first adopted by the Fianna Fáil Party. I note the Minister wants to have things both ways, a position echoed in Deputy Lynch’s contribution. On the one hand, he is happy to quote from the 2007 departmental review to justify changing his mind and abandoning Labour Party policy while, on the other, he dismisses the same Department’s estimates of the extent of our natural resources. We are informed that these are notional estimates, to use the Minister’s words. Is the Department correct that we should continue to provide among the most generous terms in the world to the multinational oil and gas companies but wrong to place a figure on the extent of the reserves it believes lie off our coast? Either the Department is right or it is wrong. The Minister appears to be utterly conflicted on this point.

In his contribution last night, the Minister also outlined the reasons for the various changes that have been made to the terms and conditions governing oil and gas exploration over the years. It clearly slipped his mind that, speaking in the Dáil in 1987 after Ray Burke’s change to the regime, his former party leader, Dick Spring, who some Deputies will remember, described Mr. Burke’s changes as an act of economic treason. Does that statement ring a bell? The Labour Party has used the same description on subsequent occasions.

As with the Labour Party’s Saul-like conversion to the benefit of selling off a substantial chunk of State assets, the Minister appears to have immediately realised, on arriving in his new office, that all of the changes to the benefit of the oil and gas companies were made correctly. This is not what he or his party were saying when they were on this side of the House, nor is it in line with the Labour Party’s manifesto commitment to review all the terms and conditions governing the exploration sector.

The Minister concluded his speech by describing the existing tax regime as fit for purpose. The real question is: fit for whose purposes? The Minister also claimed yesterday that the Corrib field will strengthen this State’s energy security and move us away from a situation [709]where 95% of the natural gas used here has to be imported. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that this will be the case as there is no onus on the consortium to supply gas here. It could if it wished send the gas out of the country via the interconnector pipelines to Scotland. Even if the Corrib gas is pumped into the Irish grid, the companies will charge the going market rate, which means that consumers here will still be paying the same as they would if the gas were to come from another jurisdiction.

Reference was made to the Fianna Fáil amendment, which is interesting. We hope such a committee will be formed. The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, yesterday gave a positive nod towards it, and while I understand the Chief Whip has since knocked that off course, nonetheless, we believe it should happen.

I will conclude by quoting the following:

I trust the Government benches, particularly the Labour Party colleagues, recognise this because it is a quote from a 2005 press release announcing the tabling of a Labour Party Private Members’ Bill not far removed from the intent of the motion before the House today. So, to the Darby O’Gills, the lepreachauní, to those who are fond of claiming that they wear the green jersey, I say stop defending the indefensible. They know full well a review is required.

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  It is happening. A review is taking place.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  They know full well that the benefits of the natural resources of this State are not being returned to the people. They should get out from under the shadow of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and support this motion.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  The debate has been full of interesting language. Deputy Ciarán Lynch has added to that language with his latest contribution and the reference to Darby O’Gill, a great film concerning an Irishman who was conned by a leprechaun. It is very clear who the leprechauns are in this Chamber today and who are trying to con and trick the Irish people in regard to our oil and gas resources.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  The Deputy would know a lot about that.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  This is critical, in light of the previous debate on the Nyberg report, which referred to the group think which is happening and the dismissal of consensus as being wrong and ill thought out. The Deputy should listen to and, in particular, pay attention to what is being said. Our motion refers to the potential realisation of assets. If Deputy Lynch reads it, it is in black and white and is mentioned twice in the document. Before he gets up to speak, it is worthwhile to note what the other side has to say in the contributions we have made.

It was not long ago, on 8 February this year, that the Labour Party — I see Deputy Lynch nodding his head because he now realises he has made a mistake in his contribution and his whole argument is flawed.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  If I can, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I will read into the record what the Sinn Féin motion states——

[710]Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  With regard to the U-turn in which the Government is involved, with the Labour Party in attendance, the Labour Party clearly stated its position on the review of oil and gas conditions in the run-up to the last election.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  It is Darby O’Gill economics.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  It stated it in its manifesto and in regard to extending the royalty regime to the Corrib gas field. There is now no mention of that and the Labour Party Minister in office, the conster and trickster that he is in fooling the Irish people into voting for him, has said nothing about that but is instead willing to continue with the terms and conditions as they exist. We also read from the Labour Party’s former Deputy Liz McManus, who at the time said the Labour Party would review the tax regime relating to oil and gas companies. No such words echoed from the Minister yesterday. The Labour Party continues——

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  On a point of order, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Order, please.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  The Labour Party continued by referring to the implications of applying royalties to the existing finds, stating that it can happen and there is no legal barrier to this, with the only issue being that it would cause reputational damage, something the Labour Party was at that time unwilling to comprehend but today is willing to sign up to because its members have their positions. The trick has been completed and they are happy in their positions today.

When the Minister responded to our motion yesterday he dismissed any State involvement on the basis that the State would not be able to come up with the money needed. As we all know, the State is well able to come up with the billions to pay off the bank debt in order to ensure that each and every citizen is burdened under a huge amount of debt. However, for banks, which are private institutions and include zombie banks like Anglo Irish Bank, which will never return a penny to the State, the billions can be found. Let us remember that on 31 March the Government Members were sitting on the other side of the House when €3.1 billion went into the zombie banks Irish Nationwide and Anglo Irish Bank. Billions could be found for those causes.

Let us consider the potential which the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, acknowledges may exist off our shoreline, although we cannot find any money to try to reap the rewards and harvest our resources, which God has provided for us to benefit the Irish people. If it benefits the bondholders, speculators and banks, the billions can be found, and they are found by picking the pockets of ordinary working people who, through the proposals of the Government and the IMF, will see increased carbon tax, oil prices, home heating costs, and all so the Government can find the money to bail out the zombie institutions that have destroyed our economy.

The two Government parties have taken to all of this like ducks to water. There is barely any discernible difference between this Administration and the last where it applies to oil and gas, and the same applies to the disastrous bank bailout and the austerity programme. It is rather strange to listen to Labour Party Ministers and Members dismiss out of hand any State involvement in oil and gas exploration in the exact same manner that the former Ministers, Mary Harney and Michael McDowell, might have done in the past.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  That is incorrect.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  It is also perhaps fitting that we should be debating this motion on the same day the McCarthy report on State assets and liabilities was published. That report [711]recommends a massive sale of State assets, which will mean throwing away decades of public investment, with the only beneficiaries being the bondholders and the IMF, who will pick up the proceeds, as is clearly stated that they should in the report. Of course, private interests will pick up their own wee bits through the profitable parts of the companies that will come under the hammer.

The losers under the previous Administration and now under the current Administration will be those workers who will lose their jobs, and the rest of us, who will see the level of service provision decline. This entire society is being undermined on the back of this mess, which will have untold consequences in terms of social disintegration and poverty unless we stand up and say that enough is enough. The Labour Party was willing to say that six weeks ago but it is unwilling to say it today.

Page 3 of the McCarthy report outlines that the State holding in the banks will be sold off at some stage but not yet, as it is too early to consider it at this point in time. What does this mean? It means that with regard to the banks we are bailing out, and into which we are pumping €70 billion of Irish citizens’ money, once they start making a buck and becoming profitable, we will sell them off so that private interests can take the benefits and screw the citizens of the State again.

Where the McCarthy report is relevant to the oil and gas sector, it represents a continuation of the surrender of vital State interests and natural resources. These are resources which have the potential to be the basis for sustained long-term growth. Given this Government’s embrace of the policies of the last one, we can expect that the anti-national manner in which our mineral resources have been let go will also apply to the sale of State assets.

They may protest but I suspect that, like all their other bluster about how they were going to stand up to Frankfurt and the bondholders, they will meekly do as they are told to. The most important people who will read that report, the people who tell the Government what amendments to put down to our motions in this Chamber, are the EU and IMF officials who insist on the recommendations——

Deputy Robert Dowds: Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  The Deputy would support the bailout it if his party were in government. He has some cheek.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Every puppet and every muppet needs to have their strings pulled or a hand up their ... to work the magic. That is what is happening here; it is puppets and muppets.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  The Deputy’s party voted for the bailout. He may not be aware of that because he was not in the House at the time.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  We can already see who the beneficiaries of the McCarthy recommendations will be. Wages in State companies will be reviewed — and we all know what that means — while shareholders in the companies will be bought off and guaranteed an annual dividend of at least 30% of profits. There are no economies there. I could go on longer about all of this; the report deals with it all.

We are discussing the consequences of earlier acts of national treachery. Most of the economic aspects of the oil and gas sector have been dealt with. We have been told that our proposals are unrealistic, would make us uncompetitive and would scare companies away. However, the most recent international experience has been a trend toward a greater state [712]shareholding and increasing taxation rates. Russia, for example, has been referred to, and Norway continues to enjoy a thriving exploration sector despite its high level of tax. Where revised terms have been offered, and in many cases imposed on, companies there has been resistance but none has walked away. They will not walk away here either. To modify what the Minister said in regard to tax rates, 49% of a lot is still a lot.

The Government is telling us that if we introduce a tax at 50% or 51% on these companies they will simply walk away. We need to get them to do a wee bit of exploration and we will get the wee breadcrumbs from the table. We had the same arguments from Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in regard to regulation of the property sector and the housing bubble. There was wonder at why we should take that approach when we were taking in all these taxes. The same arguments are being perpetuated by this Government in regard to the oil and gas reserves, the assets that lie off our coast. There is potential there which can be realised. It is insane that this Government, despite Labour Party policy to review the terms and conditions of oil and gas exploration, has put forward an amendment proposing to continue with the existing regime. It is a complete and utter U-turn by the Government and Members opposite should hang their heads in shame.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  The Deputy’s party has done a U-turn on the bailout.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 117; Níl, 22.

Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Áine Collins  Zoom on Áine Collins  Collins, Áine. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael. Information on Sean Conlan  Zoom on Sean Conlan  Conlan, Séan.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J. Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel. Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  Deering, Pat.
Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Sean. Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather. Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin.
Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek. Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan.
Information on Seán Kenny  Zoom on Seán Kenny  Kenny, Seán. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Sean. Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John.
Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael. Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie.
Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony.
Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael. Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamonn.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle. Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara.
Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan. Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann.
Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.
Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.  


Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen. Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Flanagan, Luke Ming.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan. Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Catherine Murphy.

Amendment declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 115; Níl, 21.

Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Áine Collins  Zoom on Áine Collins  Collins, Áine. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael. Information on Sean Conlan  Zoom on Sean Conlan  Conlan, Seán.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J. Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel. Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  Deering, Pat. Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Sean. Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather. Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin.
Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek. Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan.
Information on Seán Kenny  Zoom on Seán Kenny  Kenny, Seán. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán. Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John.
Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony. Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael.
Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamonn. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary. Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle.
Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara. Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan.
Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann.
Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.
Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.  


Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan  Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra.
Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian.
Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Catherine Murphy.

Question declared carried.


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