ESB and Disposal of State Assets: Motion (Resumed)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 741 No. 1

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Pearse Doherty on Tuesday, 20 September 2011:

recognises that the ESB is self-financing, has paid €1.2 billion in dividends over the last nine years and contributed €2.2 billion to the Irish economy through purchases from Irish suppliers, taxes, rates, wages and dividends in 2010;

further recognises that the ESB is of long-term strategic importance to the State’s energy supply, in providing skilled employment, training opportunities and a variety of energy and telecommunications services and could play an extended role in the area of telecommunications by using its existing networks to address the State’s broadband deficit;

[106]acknowledges that throughout the current economic and financial crisis the ESB’s investment in infrastructure has remained high, unlike Eircom, which continues to be dogged by a decade of under-investment following privatisation resulting in the State remaining below the EU15 and OECD average of broadband penetration per capita;

notes that Ireland is lagging at least three to five years behind competitor countries in terms of rolling out infrastructure capable of high speed next generation broadband;

welcomes the Government’s decision to accept the recommendations of the Cahill-Frontier report, entitled Transmission Asset Analysis, against unbundling the ESB’s transmission and distribution assets;

asserts that the programme for Government commitment to target up to €2 billion in sales of so-called “non-strategic” State assets drawing from the recommendations of the McCarthy Review Group is an unnecessary and damaging fiscal measure driven by a privatisation agenda;

believes that commercial semi-State companies should not be privatised in part or in whole;

asserts that semi-State companies can play a vital role in delivering employment activation measures and training;

affirms that, as a small open economy, State control of strategic State assets and service provision, including but not exclusive to public transport, aviation, ports, forestry, water supply, broadcasting, postal services, energy supply, telecommunications, is central to the future security, prosperity of the economy and society, and environmental protection of the island;

rejects the Government’s decision to sell off a minority stake in the ESB;

mandates the Government to inform the EU-IMF-ECB that it will rescind its commitment to a programme of State asset disposals; and

calls for dividends paid to the State by commercial semi-State companies to be reinvested into job creation and retention measures.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

[108]

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  I support Sinn Féin on this motion. I do not believe it is a good idea for the State to sell its interests in the ESB. I have studied countries throughout the world which have dabbled in selling their electricity and I do not see many positives in many cases. More often than not, this leads to higher prices for the consumer, to poorer service and it has little to offer. At present the ESB is turning a profit in Ireland. It employs many people and it goes without saying that any profit it makes stays with the State. If we sell a profit-making establishment such as the ESB to private investors, naturally the profits it would make would go God knows where. More than likely, it would employ fewer people and there would be less revenue for the Government in the long term. The notion of selling utilities is not a good one for any State.

I am all in favour of competition. I see nothing unhealthy about competition in any area. If some other private company sought to come in and compete with the State-controlled ESB I would have no issue with it. However, I do not believe there is any merit in the State losing control of its utilities. The Government would get little for selling 25% of it. Who in his right mind would buy 25% of the company? If we sell 25% of the company it will only be a matter of time before the Government will sell the remainder at the first chance it gets; it amounts to the thin end of the wedge. This is a mad idea, I completely disagree with it and I support Sinn Féin’s motion.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  I fully support the Private Members’ motion and I reject totally the efforts of the Government to engage in a salami-style privatisation of our semi-State companies starting with the ESB. I am not surprised this route is being taken. Under the guise of EU-IMF intervention attempts are being made to foist similar programmes on Greece at present. In reality this is the neoliberal agenda. It is an opportunity to hive off successful semi-State companies, to give them away for a song and to be profited from to the detriment of the workforce, the public and the taxpayer. Every day we see companies such as Aviva, TalkTalk and MBNA shedding jobs. This shows the fallacy of relying on the private sector for employment. The Government’s claim that privatisation and this programme is being driven by the desire to get cash to invest in a job creation programme is an absolute joke. It is an affront to the intelligence of the population in that everybody knows privatisation inevitably leads to job losses.

The Government is addressing this issue completely the wrong way round. The semi-State companies have played a hugely important strategic role in the development of the State. Companies like Bord na Móna and Aer Lingus have survived for over 75 years, a fate not achieved by many others. The ESB, far from being stripped, should be developed and invested in as a key economic lever to develop and stimulate economic growth.

Let us consider the ESB’s history. The Ardnacrusha project was probably the only outstanding technical accomplishment in the State in the 20th century and it was carried off by a semi-State company. At that time, it delivered 80 MW of power when the demand was 3 MW. It was laughed out of hand by The Times of London and told that Irish people would be fried in their beds. However, what it had was a vision, idea and investment. It did it, and it achieved wonders.

This is what the Government should be doing, rather than imposing austerity. There are 700 engineers in the ESB. The Government should immediately employ another 500 in a dedicated renewable energy sector whereby the Government could develop offshore wind and wave energy within a period of about five years and become a world leader in that sector given the geographic conditions that exist in Ireland. That is the way forward, not austerity. The semi-States have a key role in that process. We will implacably support the amendment put forward by the United Left [109]Alliance to support the workforce in that company in regard to industrial action to defend and expand it.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  “The privatisation of Eircom in 1999 must rank as the biggest single economic mistake made by an Irish Government — until the disastrous blanket bank guarantee of September 2008”, according to the Communications Workers Union. There have been six changes of ownership in Eircom since 1999 and handsome profits have been made each time, with the Valentia group making €1 billion. Eircom was the largest commercial company in Ireland before privatisation. It was a leader in technology, investing heavily and virtually debt free, a position occupied by the ESB today. Eircom was worth €8.4 billion at the time of its privatisation but this year it is worth just €4.6 billion and has huge debts, giving a net value of €3 billion. Employment has reduced from 14,000 to 7,000, a 50% drop. To restate the facts, Eircom was a successful public company, providing good jobs and investing in key areas of infrastructure, but it has lost over 50% of its value and 50% of its workforce, investment has collapsed and this has left the State a decade behind in the provision of fast broadband while huge profits have been made by the asset strippers.

The point of all of this is that the Eircom privatisation can never be described as a decision made in the national interest. It was an ideologically driven position, the self-same ideologically driven position that has led to the crisis of the world economy and the crisis in Ireland. The Government is now proposing more of the same in regard to this proposal. The Government will point out it is retaining the majority stake in ESB and not privatising it but simply selling a minority shareholding. I regard this as the thin end of the wedge. The proposal to sell €2 billion worth of State assets is criminal. Some €2 billion represents 50% of the €3.8 billion the Government is putting into the black hole of Anglo Irish Bank by July and will continue to do every year for the next ten years.

This is more than madness. It is what Deputy Eamon Gilmore when in Opposition called “economic treason” but it has now become “okay treason”. It must be stopped. I fully support the workers if they decide to take strike action in this regard. I call on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to co-ordinate a campaign to protect jobs, conditions and services in the public sector.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  They will turn out the lights.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  I will support them on it.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  They will put out the lights in the hospitals and Garda stations.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  That sort of talk is not responsible.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Order, please. I call Deputy Ross.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  I do not support the motion, mainly because it “believes that commercial semi-State companies should not be privatised in part or in whole”. Zealots on both sides of this argument are wrong. In particular in the situation in which the Government finds itself, one has to adopt a pragmatic attitude to the sale of State assets. In an ideal world, we would not be selling anything at all. However, one has to ask why this is happening and why the ESB has been chosen. Why it is happening is quite obvious — the Government is broke and needs to raise the money. The ESB has been chosen because so many other semi-States are valueless. One could not sell Aer Rianta because it is bust and in debt, or sell CIE because it receives a subsidy of about €300 million a year. One could not sell a huge number of State assets if one actually came to examine them. The Government has obviously used its slide rule to examine the ESB and has decided this is guaranteed and ready to go. The problem is that, having decided to do this, it came under pressure from other parties and decided to fudge the issue.

[110]What Deputy Wallace said is correct — selling 25% is an absurd way of approaching this problem. The Government is presumably looking for a trade buyer, to put it on the stock market or is considering other alternatives. Any buyer considering this will undoubtedly have a commercial motive and it will feel imprisoned by the presence of the Government on the board and in control of this utility. What will happen is that the Government will sell the 25% for much less than one quarter of what the company is worth because the embedded value of the 75% gives control to somebody other than the purchaser. No commercial entity wants to get in there and be controlled by a Government which is not working to the same commercial mandate.

The only other idea I have heard on how to raise money from the sale of State assets is barmy, and I am glad I have not heard it suggested in this House. Mr. David Begg, the secretary of ICTU, suggested we set up a State holding company and that we put all the basket cases in there together and then try to sell some of them. It is an absolutely mad idea. When we come to debate this subject, we must keep our heads and keep the wild men from talking of extremes and saying they are for or against all privatisation.

The Government is in a corner. It made absolutely the only decision open to it, namely, to sell a few State assets. It then made utterly the wrong decision to sell only 25% because it will get a pittance or a fraction of what it is worth.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  I wish to share time with a number of colleagues.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  I take the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution the ESB has made to the development of the economy and the Irish State since its foundation, and to acknowledge it is a very successful commercial semi-State company. However, statements have been made in the House which are factually incorrect. Parts of the ESB have already been privatised and there have been private contractors working in the ESB and on ESB networks for the past ten years or more, all by agreement with the unions in the ESB. I know this and declare an interest because I worked there for 20 years. I was a TEEU representative and I welcome the reasoned approach by the TEEU to this proposal.

The ESB has shown an ability to adapt. It reduced its workforce from almost 14,500 to 6,000 during the Celtic tiger years and it met the demands of those years when there was an unprecedented level of demand for electricity supply and connections. While there is genuine concern among existing workers within the ESB, the Government in its approach has addressed many of them. I have heard no Member welcome the fact the Government made a decision in July not to unbundle or break away the transmission asset from the ESB, which is very much welcomed by ESB workers. This shows clear intent by Government to protect what is a national asset.

I have heard language used here in regard to stripping the company and losing control of assets. The Government has stated clearly it wishes to sell a minority stake. It is not having a fire sale. It intends to go through a process that will get the best price. Deputy Ross is correct that this probably would not be happening were it not for a very good reason. The country is in receivership and we must raise equity to reinvest in job creation and try to stimulate the economy again. I have heard no solutions from Members opposite. They oppose everything, are against everything and some would even support strikes. What would that do for an economy that already is struggling? It would kill it stone dead. That does not constitute offering constructive solutions to the predicament faced by the country.

It is important that the Government retain majority control in this company. As for any equity raised, the Government will try to negotiate with the IMF to the effect that rather than simply [111]paying off debt, it will reinvest it in job creation measures in the State and stimulating the economy. It is welcome that the ESB has become involved in areas such as broadband, but why do a number of semi-State companies compete against one another? Bord Gáis, the ESB and Irish Rail are all developing broadband infrastructure. It is important to pull together all of these assets and avoid having semi-State companies which essentially are owned by the taxpayer competing against one another. Such assets should be pulled together in our best interests and co-ordinated to improve the quality of and access to broadband.

I note plans are advanced to develop further interconnectors between Ireland and the United Kingdom, which already are under way. This is important from the perspective of energy security and if equity is raised, I argue that consideration should be given to investing in an interconnector between Ireland and mainland Europe. This would reduce our isolation and exposure to fluctuating markets with regard to energy supply.

I take up a point made by Deputy Wallace who referred to the price of electricity. The Government does not set the price of electricity, rather it is set by an independent regulator.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  I never mentioned the price of electricity.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Consequently, regardless of whether the ESB is sold——

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  I never mentioned the price of electricity.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  The Deputy mentioned it; he should reread his speech. Regardless of whether the ESB is sold, energy prices will be set by an independent regulator. Many red herrings have been introduced and there has been much scaremongering by the Opposition on this topic.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for giving me the opportunity to speak to this Private Members’ motion which perfectly illustrates Sinn Féin Members’ ability to successfully speak out of both sides of their mouths and simultaneously say nothing of any substance in their pursuit of naked political gain. While attempting to champion the issue of State assets in the Republic, it would be remiss of me not to highlight the inertia and hypocrisy of Sinn Féin in its policies in Northern Ireland on outsourcing, the privatisation of water and other important local services.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Is this the speech the Deputy paid for?

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  The Deputy will not intimidate me.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Deputy Mac Lochlainn does not want to hear the truth.

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

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  In Northern Ireland Sinn Féin likes to claim it is being forced to implement cuts by Westminster.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Martin will solve all that when he comes down.

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

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  In the 2011-15 Sinn Féin budget spending on social welfare in Northern Ireland showed significant cuts. Sinn Féin Members say these cuts were imposed on them by an external agency at Westminster.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  They are stealing the clothes the Deputy is wearing in this Chamber.

[112]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Deputy Daly, please.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Speaking at the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis in Belfast recently, Deputy Adams stated, “In the North, British Government policy and its continuing control of fiscal matters makes efforts to tackle the economic crisis more difficult.” I find it curious that Sinn Féin is willing to accept British austerity measuers in Northern Ireland but no such adjustments or austerity measures in the Republic of Ireland.

Deputy Robert Dowds: Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  They are partitionist policies.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  The proposed partial sale of the ESB does not amount to privatisation but merely the sale of a minority stake that will benefit the workers in their share ownership.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  That is a shocking statement. This is absolute nonsense and shameful

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  To think Deputy Keaveney is a SIPTU official.

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

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  The sale of this stake will provide a critically important funding mechanism that is needed for the Government’s NewERA project.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Who wrote this speech for the Deputy?

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  It was not SIPTU.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  It is anticipated that the moneys raised from the partial sale of the ESB stake will fund new nationally-owned water services and an opportunity to invest in new publicly-owned broadband services. The programme for Government sets out a comprehensive plan to help to bring people back to work and rectify the State’s finances that have been recovered by the Government as a consequence of mismanagement by its predecessor. It is a document that provides for investment in national infrastructure and reform of the way in which the Government and the country operate.

By 2014, Ireland will need to have reached a debt-to-GDP ratio of 3%, a policy target agreed by Sinn Féin. The Government plans to continue to pay teachers and nurses and make social welfare payments. How will Sinn Féin address this plan to provide critically important services, while reneging on a sovereign agreement? The Government is being asked to renege on a sovereign agreement akin to the Good Friday Agreement.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  For God’s sake.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  This is unreal.

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

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  That is what Sinn Féin seeks to do. It wants us to renege on our commitments. Has it explored the consequences of not honouring the agreement?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It was a peace agreement.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Do Sinn Féin Members know the ramifications for social welfare benefits, salaries or investing in job creation? The Government is carefully navigating a road to recovery for the people. Yesterday Deputy Ó Caoláin described the Bill as “the worst kind of [113]short-sighted policy [that] will come back to haunt our society and the economy in the years ahead.” If anyone should know about such quotations, it is the Deputy. In October 2008 he stated in this House, in support of the blanket guarantee, “Sinn Féin Members will support the [Fianna Fáil] Minister in the passage of this legislation.” The legislation to which he referred was the nexus of the problem Members are debating this evening.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I call Deputy Mulherin who has four minutes.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  That is the truth.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  What about the second and third pages? That is the worst speech the Deputy has ever had written for him.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I ask Deputies to desist. I have called Deputy Mulherin.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Did Deputy Mac Lochlainn get his script from Belfast? At least, I write my own and scripts are not imposed on me from Belfast.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Or Westminster.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Deputies, please. The time for this debate is very limited.

Deputy Michelle Mulherin: Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

No system is a sacred cow. Members are used to systems under which there is Government involvement in, or the State has ownership of, certain strategic assets or infrastructures that provide services crucial to the country’s operation. However, is it right that the State should be so heavily involved in the energy sector? In general, it is accepted that competition is good. However, four semi-State agencies are engaged in generation, namely, the ESB, Bord Gáis, Coillte and Bord na Móna. The ultimate question must be whether this state of affairs is in the interests of taxpayers and citizens. This week some evidence has emerged of how all is not right in the system as it operates. This issue must be addressed, which may involve, in part, the State withdrawing from the provision of services.

I refer to the annual report of the Comptroller and Auditor General which was published this week. It notes there are two State companies, the ESB and Bord Gáis, which control 75% of the market. However, since the freeing of that market and the entry therein of other operators such as Airtricity, the ESB and Bord Gáis have been fighting with each other for customers. In other words, two State entities are fighting each other. This week the price has been set out clearly as being more than €20 million in marketing. One State entity is continually taking customers from the other and vice versa. Moreover, this does not include the company representatives who are going around door to door and all the others who must be paid. In this context, I also note the sum of €2.4 million that Bord Gáis, a State company, is paying to the Grand Canal Theatre. How can this be justified? How can a State company pay money to have its name up in lights to compete with the ESB? This must be wrong.

Another issue arises in the way in which the rules operate. The ESB controls 60% of the generation market, which gives it a dominant position. Consequently, the rules require it to perform an equalisation exercise and reduce its production to 40%. It must offer contracts to other generators to, in turn, sell on what is actually its own electricity supply to the grid. This also is ridiculous. The McCarthy report suggested that to achieve the 40% target which would put the ESB in a position of generating 2,000 MW of electricity — its current capacity is 3,500 MW — part of the generating assets should be sold. The money thus accrued should be invested in the infrastructure for which people are crying out such as broadband.

[114]All is not well and some of these issues will be resolved by selling assets as appropriate and investing the proceeds in the provision of infrastructure, thereby creating jobs. That is what the NewERA document and the programme for Government promise to the people, which is to be welcomed. In effect, this is the bottom line of the motion’s objective, which pertains to the provision of a jobs stimulus and so on. That is what this will do.

Privatisation is spoken of as if it was a demon. The issue of Eircom is constantly rolled out but this is a completely different model. The State will have control. No matter what percentage of Aer Lingus is owned by Michael O’Leary, he is not succeeding in paying dividends. If one is a minority shareholder, that is all one is. The State is in control and will remain so. It has been business as usual in the ESB since it was founded in 1927 and nothing will change.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to this motion. The sale of a minority stake in the ESB as an integrated utility is one of critical importance to the future of the economy and an indication that the Government is committing to various pledges in the programme for Government. Nothing is more critical than being honest and communicating accurately and truthfully with our constituency, namely, the people of the Republic of Ireland.

When one contrasts the content of the motion with what is happening in the north of the island, two things are evident. The first is that Sinn Féin is a partitionist party and the second is that it is engaging in austerity measures in the north of the island that would do an injustice to the kind of austerity measures being widely commented upon in Greece.

Conor Murphy, a minister in this north of the island, brought forward legislation effectively to privatise the ports in Northern Ireland——

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  That is an untruth. Back it up.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  It is absolutely true.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Will you say it outside the House?

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  A Sinn Féin minister brought forward the legislation and now we have absolute rank hypocrisy.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It is an absolute falsehood. Someone is writing the Deputy’s speeches and is getting facts wrong.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  I do not have to depend on a speechwriter in Stormont to write my speeches, unlike other people who are completely devoid of ideas.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Hear, hear.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Let us get back to the motion.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  The Sinn Féin minister for education initiated cuts in excess of £380 million in the North which will affect working class children in every single parish. Sinn Féin has a damn cheek to come into this House and oppose every measure imposed by the Government.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I cannot believe the Deputy is comparing the North with here. Is he serious?

[115]Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  The Government is fulfilling a programme and respecting a mandate from the people of this Republic. If one looks further at the hypocrisy——

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Deputy calls himself a serious politician. He is comparing a devolved institution based on the peace process——

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

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Austerity is okay from London but not from Europe.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  He is not a serious politician, comparing the Six Counties to this sovereign Republic.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Deputy Gerry Adams takes it from London.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Deputy McCarthy has two minutes, please.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I will have to stop this debate.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I am going to close down this House if the Deputy is not allowed to speak for two minutes. Let us have a bit of order, please.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  With the indulgence of the Chair, I will continue. The Sinn Féin Party in the north of the island has coalesced with the most right-wing party in Ireland, the DUP.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It is unbelievable.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  It knew full well the value of the Queen’s shilling when power was swung in front of its faces.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It is shameful.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  It has signed up to austerity measures of £4 billion in the North of the island.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Sinn Féin was re-elected this year by the people of the north of the island.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  It is clear that not only does it not have policies applicable throughout the 32 counties, it does not have the manners to let me finish uninterrupted.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Stick to the facts.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  I will finish with a couple of quotes. The reason this country is in the mess it is in is because of the blanket guarantee given to the banks. I will quote what three Sinn Féin representatives said when it came before this House. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said it was a “courageous response”. Arthur Morgan said it was a “decisive move”. Deputy Pearse [116]Doherty, who was then a Senator, donned the green jersey in the national interest. Sinn Féin has a dammed cheek.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  That is shameful.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Deputy will talk about the bank guarantee and the Six Counties——

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  On a point of order, the Deputies are repeatedly interrupting speakers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Deputy Nolan has four minutes. The Chair is on his feet. I want some order. Please let Deputy Nolan make his contribution.

Deputy Derek Nolan: Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  I have listened with despair to the level of debate emanating from the Opposition benches. The lack of reason, proportion and deliberate skewing of the facts is unbelievable. The Government has been quite honest about the sensitivity of the part sale of the ESB. In an ideal world, such a proposal would not be on the table, but we are not living in an ideal world. For the Labour Party, this is something we would in other circumstances avoid. That option simply does not present itself at this time. To say otherwise is to deny the black and white requirements of the EU and IMF deal to which this State is legally and contractually bound and is not only dishonest but cynical.

The manner in which this minority sale is to occur offers the best possibility of ensuring a functioning, public service oriented ESB that is efficient, proactive and offers value to the public. It maintains the ESB as an integrated utility, and recognises its strategic importance and crucial role of the energy sector to the economic and social functioning of the State. It follows the Labour Party view that the State must continue to have a strong and direct presence in the electricity market. It follows a defined process involving a full evaluation of the best approach to be taken, including consideration of the size of the minority stake to be sold to ensure the State gets the best value for money from its sale. The process will be carefully progressed and unlike the Eircom privatisation debacle, the minority share sale process will give full consideration to national energy policy into the future and to the regulatory framework. Full and meaningful consultation with stakeholders will take place.

I note how Sinn Féin has used its Private Members’ time to present this issue and attach to it the subplot of attacking the Labour Party. I stand here tonight a proud and determined member of the Labour Party.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  Hear, hear.

Deputy Derek Nolan: Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  It is a party that is being honest with the people, presenting the facts as they are and putting its shoulder to the wheel through a very challenging and difficult time for any Government. The easiest option for the party after the election would have been to scurry to the safety of the Opposition benches. Instead we took the hard option, to represent the people who voted for us and make a difference.

Were we in Opposition, we would not act in the self-serving, misleading and politically expedient manner of Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin is a party whose economic policy on its website does not refer to the fact that the country has been bailed out by the EU and IMF. It is a party which only seven months ago told the people we did not need the EU and IMF deal, could survive on our own and, [117]ludicrously, could easily return to the bond market in 2012. It was a policy that was so delusional and dangerous that it would have resulted in the bankruptcy of the State, the systematic destruction of our public services and economic collapse. The party’s leader, Deputy Gerry Adams, comes into this House and castigates the Government for blaming the EU and IMF big boys for the tough decisions that have to be made, while the Deputy First Minister blames the big boys in Westminster for the cuts.

The truth is that the people are not stupid. They know we are in a very difficult, tough and challenging situation. They voted en masse for the two parties that offered solutions to the crisis and the we are in a coalition, knowing that in other times we would follow different and better options. That is not possible now. The people are reasonable. They will not be frightened or misled by dodgy economics and scary tactics from the party opposite.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important issue. The manner in which the debate has been dragged into a sort of circus shows how serious some people are about trying to resolve the problems in the country’s economy.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  We are responding to untruths.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  We have had enough.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Please, the Deputy has only four minutes.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  I want to draw attention to some of the remarks made by the Deputies from the Technical Group. No truer title could be put on the group because one would have to be a genius to figure out what it stands for.

One Deputy advocated the sale of the entire company and another said we should sell none of it and if it was sold, the workers should go out on strike. The two Deputies in question were laughing in the corner and thought it was hilarious that the Government of this sovereign State is effectively bankrupt.

On the day the Taoiseach was elected and Deputy Eamonn Gilmore became Tánaiste, the Technical Group, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin gave a commitment to the people that they would be responsible in their opposition. Today the Taoiseach laid down a challenge to them to be responsible in Opposition about coming up with ideas for bailing out the country from the EU and IMF deal faster.

Since the start of this Dáil session we have had opposition for opposition’s sake, no credible alternatives, no costings and refusals to everything. The model advocated by the Technical Group primarily is the model operating in Greece and other European countries. Where are they now? They are in a worse situation than we are in.

  8 o’clock

There is another element in this Dáil which would like to see a return to the policies of Lenin and Stalin, and we know how well they worked. Some people in this Chamber offer us a one-way ticket to the Stone Age. I am glad the electorate will not be conned. We had a lecture from Sinn Féin on neo-partitionism that what is good on one side of the Border should not apply on the other side of the Border. The country is bankrupt and the Government is trying to come up with an alternative to the EU-IMF deal and get us out of it sooner. Part of that entails using State assets for the good of the State. It is not like the sale of Eircom, which was a fire sale on which many small investors lost a considerable amount of money.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Fine Gael did it.

[118]Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  We did not do it; that was Fianna Fáil. The Deputy should get his facts right.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  It is not about conning people into thinking we can bury our heads in the sand and wake up in the morning to find everything okay. We want to be able to keep hospitals and schools open, provide public services and pay gardaí. Nobody on the Opposition benches has come up with a single credible proposition as to how that can happen other than telling the EU, IMF and ECB that we do not want their money and will not borrow from them. If one day the paycheques of gardaí, nurses and teachers were to bounce, Sinn Féin would introduce a Trotskyite model of economics to Ireland in the hope that it might work. One good thing is that the people who are advocating that will realistically never have the reins of power in this jurisdiction.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I will read these words back to the Deputy in a few years’ time.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  If they did, the result would be a one-way ticket back to the Stone Age.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  The Deputy should conclude his remarks.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  I do not need anyone to read any words back to me because when Cumann na nGaedheal founded the ESB in 1927, many other people were busy trying to subvert the State and up to the 1980s some people continued on that track.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Deputy is talking about subversion six years after the War of Independence.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  The Deputy should conclude.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  Deputy Mac Lochlainn might snigger and laugh at what this State has had to go through to protect its sovereignty and independence, but we will have a polling day soon and the people will have their say on many of those matters.

Nobody would like to be in the unenviable position in which the Government finds itself at the moment. It is not politically popular to be making decisions such as this one. This is about saving our country’s independence and regaining our economic sovereignty. The challenge to the Opposition is to act responsibly and come up with an alternative.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  It is extraordinary that we are debating a Private Members’ motion from Sinn Féin, a party that stands for what? Every week we read its press releases and statements, and hear its pronouncements which show it is against everything and for nothing. While I welcome this debate, I challenge Sinn Féin Members to stand up and tell the people how we will recover from the recession we are in.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Deputy will have it soon — in time for the budget.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  They should tell the people honestly how we will pay for it. All we hear is that we must tax the rich and the developers, that we should not put money into the banks or sell State assets. What do they want to do? They claim to be committed to the people and to assisting in the economic recovery of the country, but the motion before us is an act of folly based on voodoo economics. I listen to them and read their statements, but they are not being honest with the people. Nobody in this House wants to sell off anything or turn a blind eye to the issue before us, but, alas, Sinn Féin does.

[119]In reality the Government will retain the ESB as the amendment states “as a strong, integrated utility”. We have learned from the debacle of Eircom and have learned about the importance of energy security. As the Minister stated previously, providing secure energy at a reasonable cost is a challenge the Government will meet. Sinn Féin is not facing up to its responsibility. It cannot be a catchall party. It has learned from being in government in the North that it is not about being all things to all people. It has made decisions there, in our own country for our own people — I am a republican — but it is not being republican down here; it is being populist. It is scaremongering and spreading a message that we can go to Europe and get the money without having to pay for it. That cannot be done as the Greeks are learning this week. The Italians are learning it and the governmentalism of France and Germany must change. I accept that Europe is in difficulty but we as policy makers must be responsible.

What does a sale of a minority stake in the ESB mean? It does not mean what Sinn Féin claims. I am surprised at some Sinn Féin Deputies because I though we had a new generation of politicians and could have a debate on what it means to be Irish within Europe. However, Sinn Féin does not seem to have abandoned its anti-European stance. The Minister of State, Deputy O’Dowd, has responsibility for NewERA, which will represent a re-launch of Ireland and getting our economic sovereignty back. The sale of assets as provided for in the programme for Government will allow us to generate revenue and will allow income to come in. More importantly, as the amendment states it will allow for “sustainable investment” leading to jobs, the very mantra of Deputy McDonald when she speaks on the Order of Business every day as she did today. However, the Sinn Féin motion does not create jobs or allow for jobs.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Where are the jobs from the Government’s jobs initiative? Not one has been created.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  On the contrary, this morning the Taoiseach mentioned 3,000 jobs.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Would the Deputy stop? How many are gone?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Allow Deputy Buttimer to continue.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  As Deputy Ellis should know if he is listening to the people in his constituency, if we were not in Europe and did not have the EU-IMF deal we would be a basket case, but we take decisions and are responsible. My challenge to the Sinn Féin public representatives is to do as they did in the North of our country by assuming responsibility. They should be part of the democratic process here on behalf of the people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I ask the Deputy to conclude.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  They should not be flying the flag with an eye to the local elections or the next general election. They should consider the people with no job and who would have no prospect of a job under the terms of this Private Members’ motion.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  There has been considerable talk about failed ideologies and so forth, which is fair enough. However, I urge some of the Deputies who have made these points to examine the roots of the global crisis we are facing. This crisis was created by a culture of deregulation and free markets gone wild with no accountability to the people. The genesis of the ideology came in the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and the devastation they created is incalculable. Twinned with deregulation and free market economics was privatisation. Whenever powerful countries, be it the United States or the power blocs in the European Union, engage in trade agreements with developing countries, one of the things they have done in return for the money they have lent is ensure the country’s vital public services have been privatised. In one [120]country, Bolivia, the people rebelled and turned that around and inspired people in other countries throughout the developing world. The Deputies opposite should do some research on that.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  Is that what the Deputy is advocating — a revolution?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Before the Deputy preaches the bible of capitalism——

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  Is it a revolution the Deputy is advocating? That will achieve a lot.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  ——he should research the damage that bible has done and is doing to ordinary working people because of the unbridled greed, selfishness——

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  Why do we not go to Colombia altogether?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  ——and abandonment of what is in the public interest.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Bring on the Colombians.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  That is a little reminder to the Deputies opposite to have some humility if they are advancing that type of ideology.

In terms of where we are here, we have a 25% share in a profitable, performing, critically and strategically important State industry being offered up for privatisation. I would remind the Fine Gael Deputies about some matters. They will remember the speeches they made about colocation and how concerned they were about cherrypicking. When a key public service is part-privatised, and I agree with Deputy Ross on this, those who come in to privatise it cherrypick and go after the most profitable elements of that service and the rest is left; eventually the service gets worse and the public is left to carry the can in terms of the critical non-profitable areas. That is what the Government has unleashed here.

Deputy Derek Nolan: Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  That is not the case.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It has unleashed the slippery slope to further privatisation.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  The Deputy is calling for a revolution.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I will deal with what the Labour Party said in a moment.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  It is all rubbish.

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

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  A revolution is what Deputy Mac Lochlainn is advocating.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  He has no solution.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  What we have is a party with its five point plan.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  The Deputies opposite are prophets of doom.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I will remind the Deputies opposite of their five point plan and that they said they would not burn the bondholders. They talk about populism — the sheer brass neck of them. They toured this country advocating Enda’s five point plan. They promised they would not close hospitals and that they would save the people — the white horses were everywhere.

[121]Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  We saved the country though.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  When it comes to negotiating with Europe, they are like mice.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Where is your plan?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  They said they would get a 0.6% cut in the interest rates and that this was the best they would get.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Where is the Deputy’s plan?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Now, thanks to the Greece crisis, the Greeks have done the negotiating for them.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Is the Deputy’s plan the budget?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It is unreal — the brass neck of Deputies opposite to talk about populism.

I will wrap up by quoting what the Labour Party said.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  The Deputy has no solutions.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It was great fun to listen to the comments of the Labour Party Deputies about the North.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  The Deputy still has no solution.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It is great that they show some concern for the people of the North.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  The Deputy should show concern for the people of the South now. That is his responsibility since he was elected to this House.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Deputy was elected——

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Show concern for the people of the South.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  ——with a mandate——

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  It is to Argentina we are going with the Deputy.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  It was Colombia a while ago.

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

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, may I finish? I still have a minute remaining.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  You have indeed.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Labour Party Deputies and the Fine Gael Deputies were elected by the people of the Twenty-Six Counties this year on the basis of their manifestos, extracts from which I will read to them.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Does the Deputy want me to read——

[122]Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Deputy has a brass neck to talk about populism and turning his back——

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Has the Deputy read the programme for Government?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I remind the Deputy that Sinn Féin was re-elected in the Six Counties this year after the Deputy was elected. It received a ringing endorsement of support, with the highest vote ever, from the people of the Six Counties.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Deputies Keaveney and McNamara, order, please.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I presume I still have a minute remaining as I have been interrupted throughout my contribution.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Continue Deputy. One voice only, please.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I will wrap up with a few quotes from the Labour Party, God bless it. Its election manifesto states that it is, “committed to the concept of public enterprise...we are opposed to short term privatisation of key state assets such as Coillte or the energy networks”, and here is the clinker — it is beautiful to read this back to the Deputies——

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  A minority share is not control.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  This is what Deputy Rabbitte said——

Deputy Derek Nolan: Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  A minority share is not privatisation.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  ——and he is the Minister. He said the ESB is of strategic significance to the Irish economy.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  That is what he just said last night.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  He said there is no question of control passing out of the authority of the ESB, he was no fan of the deal foisted on us and that it was a bad deal.

Deputy Derek Nolan: Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  A minority shareholding is not control.

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

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The Deputies talk about populism, but talk about having a brass neck.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I call Deputy McLellan.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  The more the Deputies defend right wing policies here, the less of a soul they have.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  This is soulless politics.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Deputy McLellan has five minutes. Allow the Deputy McLellan to make her contribution uninterrupted.

[123]Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important issue. We in Sinn Féin believe no commercial State or semi-State companies should be sold. We understand the importance of the ESB, Bord Gáis, Coillte, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus, An Post and Aer Lingus to name a few. We understand how important they are in the everyday lives of people, how the services they provide keep this country moving and cater for the very unique social landscape in this State. We are committed to protecting these essential services and keeping them under public control.

That we are having this debate under the cloud of valuable State assets being sold off, yet again, is significant. Most people would ask why and why now. When we read the Government’s amendment to the Sinn Féin motion we get some insight into the proposed narrative. We are expected to believe the sale of substantial State assets, to the value of somewhere between €2 billion and €5 billion, is to help provide public services and to restore the banking system. If that really is the motivation, it is a criminally misguided and short-sighted one.

Our experience of selling State assets for the so-called good of the people has been one littered with the promise of short-term gains and guaranteed long-term losses. This Government, like the previous Governments, as Oscar Wilde might have said, “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

This sell-off is spun as a necessary consequence of the EU-IMF deal, of Fianna Fáil’s disgraceful management of the economy, as a revenue-raising, competition-increasing measure, but people know different. They know because they have experience of Government sell-offs, incompetence and cosy deals. They remember the M50 tollbridge, Corrib gas and Telecom Éireann. Again and again a small number of private individuals profit at the expense of the public at large. In the Telecom Éireann or Eircom fiasco, for example, the initial change in ownership cost more than €240 million in today’s prices. The transaction costs of the company’s six changes of ownership probably cost around €1 billion. The Valentia consortium alone made almost €1 billion net out of its ownership, and at each turn a small number profited handsomely. The same cannot be said for the large proportion of the 600,000 people who bought shares on privatisation. They lost one-third of their money.

The privatisation of State assets has in the past, and will in the future, result in asset-stripping. The Eircom experience provides an example, with one owner going so far as to sell off its brand new headquarters and telecom masts to extract cash from the company. Eircom was worth €8.4 billion at the time of its privatisation in 1999 but by early 2011 it had a net value of just €39 million. At the same time, Ireland has been near the bottom of the league on broadband and telecommunications infrastructure, despite the fact that these are an essential component of modern life and business.

It comes as no surprise that our competitiveness, in terms of the smart economy, has been well below par for the past decade. All this while huge sums are being paid out in subsidies to private providers to try to bring our systems up to speed. This is not a case of public sector, good, private sector, bad. It is a case of recognising that we live on a small island off the west coast of Europe, with a population of around 6 million and that experience has taught us that if we want to guarantee services and essential infrastructure are delivered to its four corners, private companies, driven by profit margins, have no interest in the people who live in large swathes of this country, particularly those in rural or sparsely populated areas.

Had the ESB been in private ownership in the middle of the last century, many of us would still be in darkness. The lessons from the privatisation of Eircom must be taken on board by the Government. I urge all Members to support the Sinn Féin motion.

[124]Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  I have described this proposal as reckless madness. The decision to sell a stake in the ESB is nothing short of reckless in that it puts quality, viable jobs at risk. It is madness, because the share will be sold off at a bargain price that will do nothing to address the crisis in our economy.

The company is self-financing, it has paid €1.2 billion in dividends to the State in the past nine years and is of vital long-term strategic importance in providing our energy supply. It is difficult to understand why this is happening. Does no one see the irony of nationalising private debt while privatising State assets to pay back gamblers and speculators?

The sale of parts of the ESB would provide a grand bargain for speculators at a high cost to the people of this State. The ESB provides skilled employment and training opportunities and is well placed to take a lead in the expansion of telecommunications by using its existing networks to address the State’s broadband deficit.

If the Government pushes ahead with this decision it will have serious implications for our society and economy in the years ahead. Irish consumers will have to pay for what is clearly an ill-thought out policy, the legacy of which will be rising energy costs and job losses. I can quote an example from the EU. A number of years ago we were told that competition would be introduced into the energy market. The reality was that competition cost the consumer a 20% increase in charges. Our competitors in Europe are the French, Italian, Germans and British. Ireland could have been one of those big players. Some years ago, half an hour before the ESB was about to sign a contract to acquire a major stake in electricity companies in Poland, a previous Government pulled the plug on the deal and undermined the credibility of the company.

During last night’s debate neither Minister spoke of the contribution the ESB can make in tackling unemployment and addressing much needed training needs. This is not surprising, since the Taoiseach himself considers it inappropriate to comment on the potential loss of 500 jobs at Aviva, the insurance company.

Semi-State companies, like the ESB, are part of the economic social fabric of this State. Semi-States drove industry in this State for decades. It is not an exaggeration to say they opened our economy to global markets. Following the expected bust of the construction industry, ESB Networks agreed a programme with FÁS to offer apprenticeships to 400 redundant electrical apprentices who were unable to complete their craft qualifications. That programme could have been replicated in a number of other semi-State companies but it was not done.

Social Justice Ireland created 1,000 part-time jobs in 162 organisations across the North. Social Justice Ireland says it could create up to 100 part-time jobs but the Government has not taken up the proposal. We are being told that cuts and sell-offs are good, but for whom? They are not good for the consumer and they will not fix the crisis we are in.

People say Sinn Féin is reckless in tabling this motion, but it is important that we have this debate. We must have joined-up thinking with regard to where we are going. It is not good enough to throw good money after bad in toxic banks. There is not a clear way forward. To sell part of the ESB is reckless and madness.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate. I am amazed at the reaction in the Chamber. It is as if Sinn Féin cannot put forward any proposal or suggestion. I am particularly amazed at the reaction on the Labour benches. The Fine Gael Deputies, by and large, put their arguments forward and responded to Sinn Féin arguments. Unfortunately, Deputies Keaveney and McCarthy ran into the Chamber, made allegations and ran out again. They did not remain to defend their allegations. As I listened to Deputy Keaveney I was tempted to ask him if he had decommissioned his Kalashnikov. When he spoke about British rule and what had happened in the North, I almost thought he had been in the trenches in south Armagh for the last 30 years.

[125]The Labour Deputy who is in the Chamber might tell his colleagues when he sees them that the Six Counties are still under British rule. We do not have fiscal sovereignty there, unfortunately. Northern Ireland Water is a company separate from the State, privatised by the British Government before Sinn Féin was in the Assembly. Sinn Féin would love to have it back under the control of the Assembly. We have stated that time and again. With regard to the bank guarantee, Sinn Féin supported the initial idea of State involvement in guaranteeing the banks in order to protect certain interests, but when the outworkings of the blanket guarantee became apparent we voted against the legislation.

The ESB has been a major contributor to the social and industrial development of this State since the company was founded in 1927. Technologies have developed and the company has been ahead of the curve. From hydro-generation in the 1920s to clean gas in recent years, the ESB has sought to provide professional, dynamic and innovative solutions to meeting its environmental targets while delivering a first-class world energy supply. The company has committed to a target of 30% reduction in its internal carbon footprint and to being a net carbon neutral company by 2035. Such targets will be undermined by private interests in the company if Labour and Fine Gael proceed with their privatisation plan.

Herman Daly, a former senior economist with the environmental department of the World Bank, recently wrote that his time working at that institution taught him that the people of the World Bank see environmental protection as an impediment to growth. The ESB has supported many social projects that have benefited the most vulnerable in society. Suicide prevention programmes, homelessness projects, local sports clubs and events, charities, research bodies and local community and parish based initiatives have all received support, including some in Portarlington in my county of Laois. Will private interests really be happy to extend unquestionably financial support to communities and away from shareholders? Last night, the Ministers for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputies Rabbitte and Howlin, suggested that they intend to find caring, sharing privateers who will put the public good ahead of shareholders’ interests. This is the stuff of fantasy and daydreams. It is well-intentioned but a million miles from reality.

Two of the other companies referred to in the McCarthy report are Bord na Móna and Coillte. The report recommended that Bord na Móna be sold and that Coillte dispose of the forestry under its control. The Government is committed to merging them as part of the NewERA programme. It will be interesting to see if that gets off the ground, given that the IMF and EU are hostile to the notion of public investment in job creation. If NewERA does not proceed, the issue of what happens to Bord na Móna and Coillte will be thrown wide open again. It is vital that all the lands and forestry for which those companies are responsible be retained in public ownership. They are vital. In my constituency of Laois-Offaly there are massive tracts of land that need to be utilised. They could be used for the production of alternative energy. As the Government’s own proposal in NewERA recognises, there is huge scope for the development of renewable energy and for Bord na Móna and Coillte to play a key role in such projects, which would have a massive potential in addressing our energy requirements and creating badly needed jobs. There are almost 17,000 unemployed people in Laois-Offaly.

It is vital, not only that these assets be retained but that we encourage investment in them, grow these sectors and create jobs.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Go raibh maith agat a Leas-Cheann Comhairle agus fáiltím roimh an deis seo chun labhairt ar an rún tábhachtach seo.

Governments throughout the world have privatised electricity utilities since the mid-1990s. In most cases this has led to increases in the price of electricity. It has also led to a series of black-outs from California to Buenos Aires and Auckland and to Governments having to bail out elec[126]tricity companies in California and Britain. It has led to electricity rationing in Brazil and the point where electricity has now become too expensive for millions of people from India to South Africa. Owing to the centrality of the electricity product to the whole economy, it has also meant that privately-owned electricity companies are able to exert massive influence on governments. It has further meant that the planning function of electricity authorities, which once ensured adequate generating reserves for times of peak demand and kept infrastructure up to date in developed countries, has been abandoned due to market forces. As these updates have not happened, blackouts are more likely to happen.

It is interesting that much of the privatisation in the last two decades was a result of neoliberalism, Reaganomics and Thatcherite policies. This Washington consensus was often imposed on developing nations by the World Bank and the IMF as a condition of their loans. The view was that the free market would lead to a cheaper product, but the reality is different. Publicly-owned electricity enterprises have consistently provided electricity at no greater cost than privately-owned enterprises and often at a lower cost and in a much more stable background.

The intention of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to sell off a share in the ESB is tantamount to State inflicted vandalism on one of the corner stones of the economy.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  It is a minority share.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  The ESB has a long and proud history and was one of the public organisations set up by the early Governments of the State to bring progress to the country. It has a history of providing high-end jobs, training and apprenticeships for our young people for generations. Most importantly, it continues to contribute to the economy to the tune of €2.2 billion in the last nine years. It continues to operate in an open and free market. Proving its resilience, it is one of the State’s largest employers, employing over 7,000 workers. It is such an important State asset that it must be kept fully in State ownership.

Why is this happening? We know that Fine Gael is committed to the agenda of privatisation, but what has shocked people is that the Labour Party is not just supporting this decision, it is also, in fact, proposing it. It vocally opposed the sale of Aer Lingus. Deputy Tommy Broughan claimed in 2005 that the then Fianna Fáil Government’s sale of a stake in Aer Lingus was “an unprecedented act of betrayal by the Taoiseach.” This concern was equally shared by the current Minister for State, Deputy Róisín Shortall. On the other hand, Fine Gael was up front and honest. Its manifesto stated, “We will sell non-strategic assets such as Bord Gais, ESB Powergen, and ESB Customer Supply”. Today the Labour Party is in roll-over mode, acquiescing to a policy of confusion being developed by the troika and lapped up by Fine Gael.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  What about Martin McGuinness rolling over to Mr. David Cameron?

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  I will answer that question. What the Labour Party is effectively doing is forcing the public to go through a rerun of the Fianna Fáil inspired Eircom disaster. It is clear that Fine Gael is the driving force and Labour Party Members are willing collaborators, having abandoned their election manifesto at the gates of Leinster House in the rush to get into ministerial cars.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  The Deputy confuses it with his party’s relationship with the DUP.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  The more the Deputy shouts, the more we know it hurts. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party are a seamless link in the chain of privatisation.

[127]The Government is attempting to use the troika agreement as a fig leaf to cover up its real intentions. It claims that the sale is part of the EU-IMF deal, but this is not true. I urge the Minister to re-read the actual document. There is nothing binding in the deal that forces the Government to sell off any stake in the ESB. The relevant section states, “the government will undertake an independent assessment of the electricity and gas sectors with a view to enhancing their efficiency. State authorities will consult with the Commission Service on the results of this assessment with a view to setting appropriate targets for the possible privatisation of state owned assets”.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  Which State assets would the Deputy like to sell?

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  The Minister should note that the term used is “possible”. No part of the deal demands that the Government sell off State assets. This clarification raises serious questions. Either the Coalition is simply pursuing an agenda of privatisation, or else there is a draft programme already prepared with the troika officials which demands this.

I will mention one more issue that might answer some of the Deputy’s questions. Belfast Port is in full public ownership and the North’s most valuable asset. When the Executive was faced with a €4 billion cut to the block grant from London, it did not decide to sell off this prized asset as the British Government wanted it to do. Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, as Minister, recommended changes to the current ports legislation to allow the Executive keep the port in public hands, while leveraging funds from the port for use in meeting public expenditure. This would also allow for an ongoing dividend to the state from the ports. Rejecting privatisation, securing public assets and getting the best value from them for the citizen to pay for schools, public transport, hospitals and health care is what Sinn Féin is demonstrating can be done when there is the political will to do so. It is shocking that Sinn Féin is working for the return of fiscal powers in the North of Ireland, while the Deputy’s Government is giving them away.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Fergus O’Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  This has been a very important debate. It goes to the heart of where the country is going, how we are going to revive the economy and how we are going to create jobs. The key is that we must take all possible steps to reduce the number of people who are leaving the country in despair, to try to keep them at home and provide them with real employment and create new infrastructure. The only way we can do this is by creating employment and we will do this by having investment in productive industries.

I welcome the fact that Sinn Féin has put this motion before us. While we fundamentally disagree on many issues, this matter should be debated and the House is the right and proper place in which to do so. However, we must reject this nonsensical motion. It is misguided and based on a completely false premise. It displays an unwillingness to face reality. It asks the House to reject any sale of State assets, which is totally unrealistic, given the position in which we find ourselves. As pointed out by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the motion denies the commitment made to retain State control of the ESB and maintain its integrated utility nature. There is no proposal other than that to retain State control of the ESB. There will be no change in who controls the ESB; it will be controlled by the Government. As pointed out by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform last night, the motion denies the real and serious economic crisis bequeathed to the country by the previous Government. It is an impractical motion, based on a refusal to accept reality. The counter motion clearly sets out the context for the Government’s decision in the matter.

Ireland is totally dependent on the funding arrangements put in place under the EU-IMF deal to pay its day-to-day costs. If we had not received this money, our hospitals, schools, local authorities and everything would close. To continue to avail of this funding, Ireland must have a credible [128]programme in place to ensure financial sustainability. The memorandum of understanding between Ireland and the troika commits the State, at the insistence of the troika, to an ambitious programme of asset disposal. There is no getting away from this fact.

It is also the case that the programme for Government sets a target for receipts of €2 billion from the sale of State assets over time, with a view to reinvesting the proceeds in key infrastructural projects through the NewERA vehicles for which I have responsibility. The key objective of the sale of these State assets is to invest €2 billion in job creation, yet leave the ESB in the control of the State. That is a very good deal. If we receive that money and invest it in employment programmes, it will make a significant difference to the thousands of people leaving the country every week.

The programme for Government states that assets will only be sold when market conditions are right and adequate regulatory structures have been established to protect consumer interests. There will not be a fire sale. The stake will be sold when conditions are right and regulatory structures are in place to protect consumer interests. One of the key weaknesses in the sale of Eircom, to which Deputies correctly referred, was that the company was sold lock, stock and barrel and a deal was not done to protect its assets or consumer interests. The Government’s announcement of last week is in line with the commitment made in the programme for Government. The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte has made clear that the group co-chaired by the two relevant Departments, which will examine options on the minority stake sale, will consider all relevant issues, including regulatory and policy implications, before it reports back to the Government. NewERA will play a key role in assisting this group.

As the counter-motion states, the Government is committed to delivering on energy policy priorities, whether in the construction of new infrastructure or achievement of Ireland’s renewable energy targets, a step change in energy efficiency and the continued promotion of competition in gas and electricity markets which benefits consumers. The position is clear. We know where we stand, unlike the Deputies opposite.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Is the Minister of State referring to the Labour Party? The Fine Gael Party definitely knows where it stands but where does the Labour Party stand?

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  We have a Trotskyite troika on the benches opposite.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  It was interesting to note the contributions of the Ministers, Deputies Rabbitte and Howlin, in which they claimed this motion in support of retaining the ESB in its totality in State ownership was made on a false premise. They tell us repeatedly that there is a new paymaster in town and apparently what the troika wants, the troika gets with no questions asked. As expected, the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, placed the blame for his Government’s decision on Fianna Fáil, the European Union, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the tooth fairy. It seems everyone is to blame for the Government’s decisions bar the Government itself.

My colleague, Deputy Doherty, was accused of making mischief for highlighting the Labour Party’s turnaround on its position on commercial semi-State ownership. The Deputy was simply making statements of fact. In the case of the Labour Party, the lesson is that politics is not simply about talking the talk but also walking the walk.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Some day Deputy McDonald may have to walk the walk.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  It is not a surprise to Sinn Féin that the Fine Gael Party is happy to kowtow to the troika. It shares the IMF’s view of the world and is ideologically committed to small government and every man and woman for himself or herself. Prior to the election, the Labour Party committed itself to State enterprises and stated categorically it would use commercial [129]semi-State companies as a key part of the recovery. It was, we were told, opposed to the privatisation of these companies. To use the well-worn phrase coined by the former Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, the Labour Party now tells us “we are where we are”. That is not good enough. The Minister has bleated far and wide of his regret at having to make the decision in respect of the ESB while the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, informed the House last night that we simply do not have a choice. Surely politics and good governance are about choices.

Some of our colleagues in the Labour Party made erroneous statements in respect of Sinn Féin’s role in the Six Counties. I am disappointed Deputy Keaveney and others have not stayed around to hear the facts, which I will place on record. In respect of Northern Ireland Water, in advance of the 2007 Assembly elections, British direct rule Ministers threatened to introduce household water and sewerage charges. The Government-owned Northern Ireland Water had been established to deliver water and sewerage services and it was Sinn Féin’s view that the British Government was setting up the company for eventual privatisation. Following the Assembly election, my party specifically selected the Department for Regional Funding as one of our Ministries in the coalition Executive for the very reason that it has policy and funding responsibility for Northern Ireland Water. The Sinn Féin Minister for Regional Funding at the time, Conor Murphy, MLA, reversed the British direct rule Ministers’ proposal by announcing that water and sewerage services would remain in full public ownership. He rejected privatisation and reversed the proposed household charge. In addition, he pumped £750 million——

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Queen pays the Bill. We have to pay our own bills.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  What would they do without the Queen’s subsidy?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Please allow Deputy McDonald to continue without interruption.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  ——into the North’s infrastructure during his four year tenure, delivering improved drinking water quality. Labour Party Ministers should take note that all of this was done without introducing domestic water and sewerage charges.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  What happened last Christmas?

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  If they are concerned about social welfare matters in the North, they should address their analysis to their sister party, the SDLP, which holds the relevant Ministry in the Six Counties Executive. I am pretty sure the Minister, Alex Attwood, MLA, would be more than happy to take the Minister and his younger colleagues through their paces and explain to them, because they clearly require explanation, how the Executive and coalition system works in the north of our country. That said, I am deeply gratified that Deputy Keaveney watched our Ard-Fheis and Deputy Buttimer is an avid reader of our press statements. Perhaps they will move a stage further and educate themselves as to how the North is governed.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Deputy is like Little Red Riding Hood.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  I welcome the Minister’s acceptance of the tenor of Sinn Féin’s motion with regard to the contribution the ESB has made to the State since its inception in 1927. The company is self-financing, has paid €4.3 billion to the State in taxes and dividends over the past ten years and is an international leader in the energy sector. That it can borrow substantial amounts on the markets to fund re-investment in the company makes it more difficult to understand the reason any Government would sell off in part or whole a stake in one of the State’s success stories, particularly in light of its own failure to re-enter the money markets.

Another Labour Party Minister, Deputy Joan Burton, acknowledged as much last year in an interview with Business and Finance in which she stated: “It seems to me an extraordinary prop[130]osition at a time when Ireland is doing so badly in terms of bond spreads that we would seriously want to sell into a depressed market State assets which themselves have a fund-raising capacity in terms of their own needs.” The Minister singled out the ESB and Bord Gáis for particular mention as having independent funding capacities through the bond markets and noted: “Given the difficulties that we are in at the moment with our bond spreads, it seems to me to be unwise to remove this strategic capacity”. Such a move was unwise then and is unwise now.

  9 o’clock

Major questions need to be asked about this quick buck approach to selling a stake in the ESB. Despite reporting a pre-tax loss of €89 million, the company committed to paying a dividend of €77 million to the Exchequer for 2010. Its pre-tax figures were impacted by the resolution of its pension deficit and higher interest rates on its debt. However, despite the loss, the ESB still paid out its dividend to the State. Does the Government believe that such dividends will be paid out without question in the event of a part privatisation? Does the Labour party believe the raison d’être of a private third party will be to ensure the public purse receives its fair share? Does it believe a private company beholden to shareholders will buy a sizeable chunk in a successful company to sustain fair wages, keep jobs in Ireland and lower consumer prices and choose to re-invest moneys in improved strategic infrastructure over paying out dividends to shareholders? The Minister does not believe any of those propositions, nor do I.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Then we have no problem. We are all agreed.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  There is also the issue of the levels of debt the ESB is currently carrying and the impact this will have on the State’s dividend and future bargaining power in deciding on the strategic needs of the State. Following the ESB’s purchase of Northern Ireland Electricity, its debt levels were pushed to €3.9 billion. On receipt of proceeds from a third party investor, the State will have to withdraw the sale proceeds from the company and its creditors. Creditors will have a strong case under company law to put up their hands and say “Stop” to the Government. In other words, it would be in their gift to say “Hang on a minute. Rather than paying out the proceeds of the sale to the State to satisfy the EU and IMF, why not pay us off first?” They would be fully within their rights to do so.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Deputy Adams had better come back soon, or Deputy McDonald will take over altogether.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  Extolling the virtues of the ESB and its achievements within the current ownership arrangements, as the Minister has done, is all fine and dandy, but all of that will change, and change absolutely, if the Government sells off a stake in the company.

I would like to address the defence by the Minister of the Government’s policy with regard to the privatisation of Telecom Éireann and the impact it has had on the State’s telecommunications infrastructure and the future of next-generation broadband. Forfás, Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation, stated in a report last year: “Ireland is lagging at least 3 to 5 years behind competitor countries in terms of rolling out infrastructure capable of high speed next generation broadband.”

Serious questions have been raised across Europe about the effectiveness of policies based on liberalisation or privatisation measures with regard to investment. The EU has recognised this by changing its state aid rules to facilitate joint public-private investment in broadband infrastructure. Such is the problem that, for example, academics Palcic and Reeves, in their recent book entitled Privatisation in Ireland: Lessons from a European Economy, have proposed the setting up of a new public next-generation network company which could finance any investment through its own borrowings and remain off-balance-sheet. Many European countries, such as France, Germany and [131]Belgium, still retain sizable shareholdings in their national telecommunications companies for this very reason.

Eircom’s promise of increased investment in the next-generation network is of course welcome, as will be the work of the Government’s next-generation broadband task force, but we get no sense from the Minister that he appreciates the urgency of this challenge. It is all well and good to talk the talk of next generation broadband delivery, but if the Government does not walk the walk, real growth across a number of sectors will simply not happen.

The Minister also praised the saturation of mobile broadband services last night. I am sure if the Minister ventures outside the Pale he will realise that for hundreds of thousands of rural service users, mobile broadband is not a real option. Unfortunately, if they live beside a hill higher than their knees, access is limited, slow or just non-existent. Ironically, it is the ESB that could best address the State’s broadband deficit through its existing infrastructure.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is all in hand.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, spoke last night of the harsh realities facing the State. His view seems to be that it is time to knuckle down and accept our fate. The McCarthy review of State assets was widely praised for its contribution to the debate on which assets to cash in, and Sinn Féin has this evening been given a rap on the knuckles for not appreciating the Government’s solemn commitment to protect faceless Anglo Irish Bank bondholders.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Oh God, not this again.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  Of course, we in Sinn Féin believe the Government should honour commitments to its people. It should use the people’s money to support job creation, get young people off welfare and into education, provide enough special needs assistants and hospital beds, and support and foster successful, innovative commercial semi-states that benefit all of the people——

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Where would the Deputy get the money? She should tell us where she would get the money.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  ——and not holders of bad bank debt.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Now who is playing the tooth fairy?

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  To tell the people that the proceeds of the sale——

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Alice in Wonderland stuff.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  ——will be used for investment in job creation is to sell the people a pup.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  The Deputy should tell us where she would get the money.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  It is the Government that is giving it away.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  Even if Government secured the agreement of the troika to do so, it would be a fraction of the sale value. Real growth through job creation and a significant write-down of bad debt is the only way forward. The EU is getting it wrong and the Government is getting it wrong. It is now time for a different path.

[132]Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I thought she was going to call for a general election.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  Even at this eleventh hour, I ask the Minister to return to the commitment he made to the people when he went before them and was duly elected. He and his colleagues promised they would oppose privatisation and that they would use semi-state companies——

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I am not privatising the ESB, for the record.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  ——in a way that would serve the long-term strategic needs of this State and its people.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I am not privatising the ESB, and I did not privatise Eircom.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  Now he and his colleagues are on the brink of making a colossal U-turn.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  We are on the brink of rescuing the country.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  Their decision to privatise part of the ESB is wrong-headed and short termist, and I think they know that. What they know above all, I am sure, is that the decision they have taken flies in the face of promises made.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Well done.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 86; Níl, 38.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Ray Butler  Zoom on Ray Butler  Butler, Ray.
Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán. Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Áine Collins  Zoom on Áine Collins  Collins, Áine. 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 Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. 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 John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. 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 Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne.
Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
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 Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. 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 Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán. Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony.
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 Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
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 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 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 John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. 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 Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.



Níl
Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan.
Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  Daly, Clare. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
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 Tom Fleming  Zoom on Tom Fleming  Fleming, Tom.
Information on John Halligan  Zoom on John Halligan  Halligan, John. Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Michael.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie. 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 Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
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 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 Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.
Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy  Troy, Robert. Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.

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, 86; Níl, 38.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Ray Butler  Zoom on Ray Butler  Butler, Ray.
Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán. Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Áine Collins  Zoom on Áine Collins  Collins, Áine. 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 Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. 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 John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. 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 Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne.
Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
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 Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. 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 Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán. Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony.
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 Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
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 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 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 John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. 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 Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.



Níl
Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan.
Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  Daly, Clare. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
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 Tom Fleming  Zoom on Tom Fleming  Fleming, Tom.
Information on John Halligan  Zoom on John Halligan  Halligan, John. Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Michael.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie. 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 Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
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 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 Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.
Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy  Troy, Robert. Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.

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

Question declared carried.

The Dáil adjourned at 9.20 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 22 September 2011.


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