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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] It is necessary that the work of government continue and that the Estimates being produced are clear. It may well be that in the discussions that will take place at committee suggested changes or adjustments will be made to the Estimates set out. What is before the Dáil is one Estimate for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It is necessary that this Estimate be passed if public sector workers are to be paid. I am sure even Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, with her ability to turn this way and that-----

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary As distinct from the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----recognises that workers in the public service who perform their duties are entitled to be paid. The Deputy walked out of a meeting yesterday at which this could have been arranged. The Government has set out in its fiscal plan the savings required to be achieved this year. These savings, as set out in the Revised Estimates for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, are apportioned across all Departments. That is the reason the Estimate is before the House. This is normal procedure in the workings of government. The discussions and negotiations that took place were the most extensive, comprehensive, open and - I dare say - truthful expression of the facts of financial life in this country. From a Government perspective, the proposals on the table as put forward by the Minister through the Labour Relations Commission are fair and equitable. The core salaries of 87% of public sector workers earning below €65,000 per annum are not touched. It is important that the Deputy understand we are borrowing more than €1 billion every month to pay salaries in the public sector.

The Deputy mentioned individuals in the banks. I remind her that the contract for the bank in question was negotiated by a Fianna Fáil-led Government and that this Administration on taking office put in place a cap on bankers' salaries, which nobody has since breached. I further remind her that the Government, as part of its programme for Government, asked that an analysis be carried out of bankers' pay. This analysis was conducted by Mercer and the findings were reported to the Government. The Government, in its engagement with the banks, recommended a reduction in banks' pay and pension scales of between 6% and 10%. The Minister for Finance expects that this recommendation from the Government will be responded to by the banks in the next two weeks. My understanding is that it will include a substantial contribution from the leadership of the banks on pay and pensions.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I am well aware that not only did Fianna Fáil set this remuneration package of €16,000 per week but also that the former Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mr. Joe Walsh, is chairman of the remuneration committee of the bank in question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Can we avoid dealing with individuals, please?

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I am fully conversant with the facts. The Taoiseach spoke about the need for clarity. In this episode there is absolute clarity: the outrageous remuneration package of a banker is not to be touched. The Minister for Finance, rather than register a protest in this regard, will abstain and allow this obscenity to go through on the nod. At the same time, the Government is eye-balling nurses, gardaí and front-line staff, telling them that they have to take more pain.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett A question, please.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Taoiseach may claim and may have been brainwashed by his colleagues into believing 87% of public and civil servants are untouched by the deal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy is over time.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald When workers did the sums in respect of their households and families, they took a different view.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will the Deputy put her question, please?

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Will the Taoiseach explain to public and civil servants such as clerical officers why the Government is being so aggressive with them and so gentle with Richie Boucher? I ask the Taoiseach to answer that straightforward question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I remind Deputies that we are fortunate to enjoy absolute privilege in this House and ask them to refrain from using this opportunity to raise individual matters.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The names are in the public domain.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy is quite prepared to name people on some occasions but not on others. That has been a trait of the Sinn Féin Party for many years.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Really.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, on behalf of the Government, put in place the process of independent analysis of the pay scales and pension packages of bankers. As I said, this issue was reported on to the Government by Mercer. The Minister has also made a recommendation on behalf of the Government that banks reduce their cost base by between 6% and 10%. He expects to receive a response in this regard in the next couple of weeks. As I said, it is expected that it will include a substantial contribution from the leadership of the banks. It is important that everybody understand the banks are an important part of Ireland's financial economy. They are not making money and would not be in existence but for the taxpayer. It is important that the Government squeeze the banks and require them to reduce their cost base.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Cast your vote.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Everybody understands the difficulties all of the people the Deputy mentioned have to deal with every day of the week. We are borrowing over €1 billion per month to pay salaries.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Has the Taoiseach told Richie that?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We will never have the country we want until we get the public finances in order.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Taoiseach should sing that song to him.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny As part of this process, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Will abstain on the payment of a €843,000 salary.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----made a recommendation following receipt of the Mercer report to the Government that banks reduce their cost base by between 6% and 10%. The Minister expects to receive a response from the banks to this recommendation in the next two weeks which will include a substantial contribution from the bank leadership on pay and pensions.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald That is the Taoiseach's answer to the nurses.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I, too, wish the Taoiseach a happy birthday. I hope his colleagues will help him to cut the cake. There is, however, little on which I can compliment him. More than two years ago Fine Gael received a mandate, one of the finest ever given to a Government, to deal with the situation in the country, in respect of which it has been an abject failure.

Today we will witness the annual charade that is the Bank of Ireland AGM, a charade in which shareholder power is held up to mockery and the real power of the vultures and the board will once again be asserted over the interests of small shareholders. Also present will be the Bank of Ireland's chief executive, Mr. Richie Boucher, who continues to be paid an obscene salary of €843,000 per annum, despite the sense of disgust and outrage among people across the country.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Taoiseach's response to Deputy Mary Lou McDonald was just idle words because we know nothing is happening. This annual salary package is only €157,000 short of the €1 million the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Simon Coveney, announced yesterday would be provided to assist farmers in the fodder crisis. This puts things in perspective in terms what is being done for ordinary people, whom the Taoiseach, coming from a rural constituency, should know well. We have heard today that the new governor of the Bank of Ireland, Mr. Archie Kane, will receive a package of €500,000 per annum or €10,000 per week. At the same time, the Government is trying to cut the salaries of public servants, jobseekers are being paid €188 per week, young people are being paid €100 per week, while front-line workers, including gardaí, nurses and council workers, are being penalised, threatened and bullied. Five Labour Party Deputies appealed to the Minister in the House yesterday to do something about this issue. How long more are they expected to sit idly by?

Deputy Arthur Spring: Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring Fianna Fáil signed off on it.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath It is a separate party.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Do not get me stuck on the banks issue. Deputy Arthur Spring was there himself.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is welcome that the Deputy is concerned about pay now.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Deputy Arthur Spring could tell us about Anglo-Irish Bank.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The AGM presents the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, with an opportunity to stand up on behalf of taxpayers on the issue of bankers' outrageous salaries.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath They have a brass neck.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath However, the Minister bottled it. He could have used the Government's 15% shareholding to vote against the proposal which is certain to be passed now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy is over time.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Is the Taoiseach prepared to defend the cowardice and inaction of the Minister? The Minister will vote in favour of every other resolution, including those on the re-election of Mr. Boucher, Mr. Archie Kane and all of the other directors. We all know that Mr. Boucher was an enthusiast of the property boom.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Can we, please, have some respect for Deputy Mattie McGrath?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Mattie McGrath is over time.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan He is unable to speak because of the interruptions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I have told Deputy Mattie McGrath that he is over time. What is his question?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I will put my question, if I am allowed to do so.

Deputy Derek Keating: Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating The Deputy is making a speech.


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