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 Header Item ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013: Instruction to Committee (Continued)
 Header Item ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
 Header Item ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013: Report Stage

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 830 No. 3

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  11 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte] Deputy Pringle is a bit like the Japanese soldier who came out of the forest waving his sword a number of years after the end of the Second World War.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle The war is not over.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte It has happened and all we are doing today is tidying up the legislation to acknowledge the reality that the brand inevitably was part of what was for sale and was part of what attracted the new owners. The brand will hopefully grow and employ more people in Ireland. It certainly brings considerable resources behind this competitor in the marketplace. As a result we need to come up with a new name for the holding company. The companies in the Ervia stable will do business as Irish Water and Gas Networks Ireland, but there has to be a name for a holding company. That is all we seek to do here.

I know Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan resorts to assistance about seeing into the future and he says he knows that the purpose is to privatise Irish Water and to privatise this, and hence his imaginative solution, an bord imithe. We have made plain 100 times that we are creating a new utility, Irish Water, in State ownership. It is very difficult in the business of adversarial politics to win out when one is accused of doing something, and it is a matter of fact that one does not do it and one's critics insist one will still do it in the future.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan It is a tough job.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte It is very difficult to prove a negative. All I can tell the Deputy is that there is no intention to privatise Irish Water. I do not believe an bord imithe would be appropriate for Ervia. He asked why we did not give it an Irish name and asked if we brought in consultants to come up with the name. We did not; it came from the staff and board of Bord Gáis Éireann. It is intended to be a combination of Irish and Latin - "Éire" and "via". While everybody is entitled to an opinion about it, that is the name that has been selected.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan It sounds like Esperanto.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I do not think so; I do not think there is a Spanish tinge to this at all. It is very much Irish and is similar to Telecom Éireann, Eircom, Ervia and so on. That is what is before the House and I am grateful to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for permitting it to be recommitted on Committee Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I move: "That Report Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013: Report Stage

  Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 1.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny Amendments Nos. 1 and 4 are related and may be discussed together.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, line 7, after "line" to insert ", to change the name of Bord Gáis Éireann".

As we have just discussed, these amendments concern the change of name of Bord Gáis Éireann to Ervia. The Gas Regulation Act 2013, which was enacted late last year, provided for the sale of the energy business of Bord Gáis Éireann. As part of the sale process the ownership of the "Bord Gáis" brand will transfer to the new owner. Once the bidders have acquired the energy business of Bord Gáis Éireann and its brand, Bord Gáis Éireann may no longer use the words "Bord Gáis" in the name or brand of either its group or network business.

  Bord Gáis Éireann has given careful consideration to appropriate alternative names having regard to the changing nature of its business, given both the sale of the energy business and the establishment of Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis Éireann. As I advised the House earlier, the name change from Bord Gáis Éireann to Ervia will take account of the expanding functions of Bord Gáis Éireann.

  The change of name requires a statutory footing and accordingly amendment No. 4 makes the necessary provisions to give effect to this. Amendment No. 1 is a consequential amendment, changing the Long Title to reflect the inclusion of the provision to change the name of Bord Gáis Éireann to Ervia.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Bill reported with amendment.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, line 21, to delete ", selling".

This is generally good legislation, providing for something I had previously suggested as a solution to our broadband distribution network problems. From the outset I had only two amendments, one of which was a social-benefit clause placing a responsibility on the company that any job vacancy would be filled by a person to be taken from the register of unemployed people. I accepted the Minister's response on Committee Stage that it would not be appropriate in this primary legislation. I would hope to see it become copper-fastened in Government policy that any State venture such as this would include a social-benefit clause.

  Section 2(b) states that the board may engage in the business of "leasing, licensing, selling and otherwise providing, making use of and engaging in any service in connection with electronic communications networks and electronic communications services infrastructure." My amendment proposes to delete "selling" from that section of the legislation.

  On Committee Stage the Minister said - I fully accept his bona fides - that he has no intention of selling off this utility. However, I believe there could be unintended consequences here. First, the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, will not be the Minister forever. Second, leaving the word "selling" in that section could lead to the privatisation of the ESB fibre network.


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