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European Council Meetings (Continued)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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  5 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] It has not spread with the same momentum. That is why the Government has worked in recent weeks to put together a realistic, practical response to the construction sector, which is not contributing to job creation and the general economy to the extent it should. Deputy Boyd Barrett is aware that it used to contribute 25% of GDP when it was building 100,00 houses while only 30,000 were needed. It is now down at 6% or 7% and it is building 6,000 or 7,000 houses when we need 25,000 or 30,000. We need to get from where we are to where we want to be without creating a further bubble. As Deputy Boyd Barrett pointed out, it is a seller's market in certain areas of Dublin because demand exists there. I notice the property pages of some of the newspapers are expanding again with the houses that are available.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett What is the Taoiseach going to do about it? He should build some council houses.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is very important that there be a functioning banking system. That is why we have great regard for what the credit unions and smaller operators do. That is why there has been an increase in big firms applying for commercial banking licences so that firms that use their equipment can have access to credit. That is why the budget changed the regulations for thresholds for access to credit and VAT thresholds for small firms. That is why the motor industry is facilitating finance for vehicles which is coming from places other than mainline banking. That is why the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan has said he is open to suggestions for a third banking force in the country so there can be competition for the provision of credit.

We are acutely aware of the housing provision problem and the Government will respond to that in the next couple of weeks with a comprehensive response for the construction sector. Deputy Boyd Barrett knows how important it is; so do we. I know the pressures on people, many of whom have families and are living in apartments that are too small and want to get a detached house. They need space and the supply of houses is not there.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Do you think tax breaks for speculators-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Would you please speak through the Chair, Deputy? Thank you. There are rules in this House and they apply to you equally as they do to everybody else.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I have a supplementary question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I call Deputy Higgins.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett So I do not get the same-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No, you do not, actually. You had two questions. Deputy Martin had ten or 15 questions.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I will put in ten questions next time.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins Tens of thousands of mainly working-class youths on this island were slaughtered in Europe as a result of the rivalry between major imperial powers jockeying for influence, territory and markets when that rivalry exploded into the First World War. Has the Taoiseach learned nothing from the history of our own people and of small nations in Europe? The Taoiseach fully supports the policy of the EU towards Ukraine. Is it not obvious to the Taoiseach that the EU was avariciously pushing its own selfish economic and political agenda in Ukraine to trump the equally avaricious Russian elite represented by President Vladimir Putin and company? Of course the ordinary Ukrainian people detested the rotten Yanukovych dictatorship but is that justification for the EU to collaborate to the hilt with right-wing, semi-fascist, repulsive, xenophobic and wholly anti-progressive political forces such as Svoboda and Right Sector? The EU is conspiring with these forces to be the cat's paw of European union to advance its economic agenda within Ukraine. Does the Taoiseach support that?

Russia should be condemned for its interference in Ukraine, but does the Taoiseach not recognise the hypocrisy of his Government and the EU in pushing for sanctions when they uttered not a word against the far more bloody intervention of the EU's allies, such as the United States and Great Britain, in Iraq for example? What sanctions did any Irish Government ever support against the United States or Britain, Mr. Blair and President Bush, for the bloody, criminal invasion of Iraq that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead? Is the Taoiseach satisfied the new Government in Ukraine, which he and the EU hail as a great and new democracy, has installed billionaire oligarchs as regional governors throughout Ukraine? How does it serve the interests of the ordinary Ukrainians, working-class, peasants and poor, to install oligarchs who robbed blind the resources of the country taking advantage of the collapse of the revolting Stalinist regime?

For the poor people of Ukraine, now in the tender embraces of the troika or its equivalent, what kind of future exists in terms of lifting them out of the poverty and hardship that exist for so many when an even worse neo-liberal economic regime is to be installed? Will the Taoiseach not recognise that the people of Ukraine have the right to be left alone from interfering imperial powers, whether Russia or the EU, to decide their own future without this type of meddling, behind-the-scenes string pulling, economic pressure and blackmail from both Russia and the EU? Would the Taoiseach not state those as principles in opposition to the hypocritical policy that is being followed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Higgins should bear in mind that the people of Ukraine wanted to join with Western countries for the development of their economy. Mr. Yanukovych decided he should do deals with Russia over their heads and the people rebelled. Mr. Yanukovych left and his party in government changed its view. Therefore this is not meddling by the EU but the invitation of the Ukrainian people and the Government in Kiev to sign political agreements with the EU instead of with Russia. It is not a case of invasion or pressure by the EU to force them to look West. I agree with Deputy Higgins that the winners here should be the people of Ukraine. The question is whether they will be given the right to determine that in their forthcoming elections.

  In Ossetia, Transnistria, Moldova and Chechnya, Russia has given passports to ethnic Russians and sent people in to take over at the equivalent of council offices and block the streets of the towns, provoking incidents and creating a need for protection. That is why protectorates have grown up, with President Putin's stated ambition of restoring the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, to its former glory. That is why the people of Ukraine said they wanted to open their doors and borders to the EU. I disagree with Deputy Higgins's argument that Europe was forcing the pace. Europe was requested, invited and encouraged, and in response it encouraged the people in Ukraine to do business with the West. The oligarchs Deputy Higgins mentioned are very favourable in the eastern Ukraine region towards the Kiev Government and have an interest in seeing their people are able to do business with the EU. We do not want any more situations of subsidised gas, which created billions of euro for particular people over the past number of years.

  Deputy Higgins argued that Europe has meddled in the affairs of Ukraine, but a number of years ago the per capita income of Ukraine and Poland was the same, while now the per capita income of Poland is many multiples of that of Ukraine.

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