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 Header Item Job Losses (Continued)
 Header Item Bank Codes of Conduct

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon] I have spoken to him on numerous occasions about this and the time for talking is long over. I want action and want to see it quickly.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry Deputy Bannon is very passionate about his constituency, which I greatly appreciate and he may be assured that I will tell this to the Minister, Deputy Bruton. As well as marketing the midlands region for new greenfield investment through its gateway of Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar, the IDA continues to engage regularly with the existing clients in the region to assist in driving transformation and expansion opportunities in these companies, which can contribute to ensuring long-term sustainability and investment. I refer to research and development, investment in capital, technology, energy-efficient equipment and people, that is, upskilling and retraining. The majority of foreign direct investment, FDI, projects secured for Ireland are won from the existing base of approximately 1,000 multinational companies in Ireland. At present, there are 44 IDA-backed companies in the midlands, employing 4,624 people across a range of activities and centres. In addition to Ericsson, these companies include Covidien, PPD, KCI, Harmac Medical Products Limited and the NPD Group. These investments bring spin-off benefits right across the region through indirect employment and expenditure in the supply chain and indigenous supply of logistics, security, catering companies and so on. The IDA will continue to compete vigorously - I assure Deputy Bannon that I appreciate fully the manner in which he raised this matter - for both Ireland and the midlands region.

He should be assured that Enterprise Ireland's activity in Athlone and the surrounding area is focused on the creation of new jobs. The Minister, Deputy Bruton, has personally seen to this through supporting entrepreneurs to set up new high potential start-up companies. It is from the small acorn a large oak tree can grow and these new companies can be the future. As for the retention and creation of jobs in existing companies, it acts through the support of company development plans and enhancing the innovation capability of business. It is about supporting the existing companies through supporting research in those companies. Enterprise Ireland engages actively with its client companies and has a number of supports and initiatives in place to assist. In 2011, there were 95 Enterprise Ireland client companies in County Westmeath employing more than 2,100 people in full-time jobs. In 2011, Enterprise Ireland paid more than €1.4 million in financial support to client companies in County Westmeath and has paid almost €1 million this year to date. Enterprise Ireland also has supported the development of a community enterprise centre in Athlone.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that Ireland continues to be competitive in attracting new investment. More than 1,000 multinational corporations have chosen Ireland as their strategic European base and multinationals currently employ 146,000 people directly and many more indirectly. The Department and its agencies will continue to work with companies to safeguard existing jobs and to create new jobs. Moreover, the Government will continue to deliver on its commitment in the action plan for jobs, which will be an annual process setting out clear targets to be delivered each year to support job creation. I assure Deputy Bannon that any support that can be given by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland will be delivered.

Bank Codes of Conduct

Deputy John Browne: Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne I thank the Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle for allowing Deputy Mattie McGrath and me to raise this issue. Last weekend, a situation arose whereby Friends First Finance, based in Dublin, sent boot boys down to a farmer in north County Wexford to repossess a tractor. These guys were armed with anything they could have in their van. On their arrival, the farmer resisted the actions to take the tractor and as a result, both he and his son were attacked with jackboot tactics. They were battered, received belts on their arms, legs and bodies and were in severe pain.

The point Deputy McGrath and I wish to raise tonight is that banks should not be allowed to operate in this manner. They have a code of conduct laid down by the Central Bank, which requires firms to have in place procedures for the handling of arrears cases to give the borrower a reasonable time in which to solve the arrears problem and to endeavour to agree an approach to assist the borrower to solve the arrears problem. The section was revised recently and now contains more detailed requirements and the revised requirements have been effective since 1 January 2012. In some instances, a person who is dissatisfied with his or her treatment by a hire purchase company can make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Obviously, however, both in this case and many other cases nationwide, banks now are taking the law into their own hands. They are operating in the dead of night and the people to whom I referred earlier arrived in the early morning when it was dark and tried to take the tractor from the local farmer. Of course the farmer, his son, the family and their neighbours resisted the attempt and there certainly was no talking to the people who arrived. They attacked the farmer straight away and attacked his son. They created mayhem in that part of north County Wexford.

During the week, a number of meetings took place between Friends First and the local action committee, at which Deputy Mattie McGrath was present at different times. An agreement was reached with the managing director of Friends First that no further action would be taken until such time as the Garda completes its investigations. However, it is important that such banks operate within the law and under the code of conduct as laid down by the Central Bank, but they certainly are not doing this at present.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and Ceann Comhairle, as well as the Minister of States for his attendance. This is the most grave topic I have ever encountered. I spoke on this issue 13 months ago and was assured by the Minister then in the Chamber, who is not the same Minister as this evening, that there was a code of conduct for these banks. While the code of conduct was renewed and upgraded, it is not worth the paper on which it is written because one has these bankers and thugs on the ground to whom Deputy Browne referred. While I will not name those people, I will name the people in the banks in suits, that is, those who direct such activities. They are like a third force that is similar to a militia about which one might read in foreign lands. We have An Garda Síochána here with a proud record and our Army. They are the only agents we respect and to whom we look up. I want all these people taken off the road. I want to ask Mr. David Taylor, managing director of Friends First-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Sorry Deputy, you are not-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath -----and Mr. Gordon Hill, recoveries manager-----

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

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath -----and Ms Rachel Ellis. No, I am going to name them because they need to be named and outed.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt No, Deputy, sorry.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I met these people during the week and I wish to state that I am grateful to the staff at Friends First who met us, looked after us and were very kind to us, but not these people, who would not give us a cup of tea for the 13 hours I was there or the 24 hours for which the other remained. I thank Mr. Tim O'Brien, chairman of the Association of Farm Contractors in Ireland, Mr. Sam Deacon and the two neighbours who accompanied us there, namely, Mr. Peter Doyle and Mr. Alymer Dalton, as well as the many other farmers and subcontractors who went to Friends First to show their anger, annoyance and hurt. This behaviour cannot be accepted. This is modern Ireland and is a democracy. We are putting billions into the banks and while this particular bank is not one of the banks under the State guarantee, it is a banking institution. I also call on Mr. Pat Farrell, chairman of the Irish Banking Federation, to deal with these people. I am putting them on notice that unless this matter is dealt with within seven days and unless such activities cease and desist, it will be necessary to take other actions, because the people of counties Tipperary and Wexford are proud people with a proud history. Are we going to have such people like the Peep o' Day Boys or the Black and Tans, who we resisted? These people broke into the farm. They had equipment in their car that was like what one would need to get into the Central Bank.

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

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They had no identification, no security tags and are not Garda-checked. Moreover, the Garda Síochána are not prepared to deal with them and are unable to so do. I am not attacking the gardaí as they do not understand the code of practice. These activities must be outed. Our people are struggling in the face of another austerity budget this week and yet these thugs are being sent out by men in suits who are directing these terrorist-like operations.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Thank you, Deputy.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I wish to finish.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please, no more references to-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Obviously, we were told that it is a salvage company.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy, people should not be named.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath No, one is told this was done by a salvage company based in Northern Ireland but it was militia-style. The company is called Salvage Direct and when one checks them on Google, one is told it has limousines for hire but this is what they are up to. Our people, including an ordinary decent young boy of 16 who is studying for his leaving certificate, should not be subjected to such beatings. Were it not for the ambulance and fire brigade people who attended the scene, they could have been left dead on the road. I am worried that someone will be killed unless this kind of militia or third force is stood down and dealt with by the powers that be.

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