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 Header Item National Asset Management Agency: Motion [Private Members] (Continued)
 Header Item Energy Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 915 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace] With regard to the two gentlemen who were arrested a few weeks ago, the former employees of NAMA who worked for it in Dublin, I have mentioned them several times outside this House. The Minister spoke about going to the relevant authorities. I have gone to the Garda on a number of occasions and to the National Crime Agency. I have not been hiding behind the door. The Minister said it is unreasonable to talk of par value. It is not unreasonable to talk of par value. No one expects us to get par value but if I hear NAMA say once more that it will make a profit, I will vomit. The par value was €74.8 billion and it is going to get about €34 billion. The Irish taxpayer does not want to hear that it is making a profit because we are out about €40 billion. We were told NAMA was invented in order to put these assets into cold storage until there was recovery. What did we do? We could not offload them quick enough and we could not offload Project Eagle quick enough. Does the Minister of State know how much competitive tension there was in that bid when there was no one left but Cerberus and Fortress? There was zero competitive tension.

  Fianna Fáil Members mentioned that my motion should have been clearer and more specific. I specifically went as close to their motion of October 2015 as possible because I wanted to keep them on board. I could have included much more in the motion. I went as close as I possibly could to Fianna Fáil to give it no reason for coming out of it, yet they have done so.

  The three speakers from Fianna Fáil made some very good points today but they are totally inconsistent with their position of not having a commission of investigation now. It will not interfere in any way with what the NCA and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States are doing. The legal opinion provided to me makes the point that if at any stage during the commission's lifetime the Director of Public Prosecutions decides to institute criminal proceedings, and in the unlikely event that the Director of Public Prosecutions believes there was a conflict and that the commission's activities might endanger those criminal proceedings, it would be open to the Director of Public Prosecutions to write to the commission and set out her concerns regarding how matters should proceed, but this very unlikely potential eventuality is not adequate reason for the Oireachtas and the Government to shirk their duty in establishing a commission to begin a thorough investigation.

  The Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, referred to the independence of NAMA but he had no problem interfering with NAMA in May 2010, March 2012 and July 2015, when it suited him. The truth be told, the Minister has the power to tell NAMA what to do in all areas, so long as the direction or order under section 14 is to do with achieving the purposes of the Act, which are set out in section 2. He could tell NAMA to do anything in this context. He could even have told it to honour a social mandate, which was in the small print. However, he chose not to. He chose to do whatever he liked. He has not wanted to hold NAMA to account. He is happy with its commercial mandate and happy we have taken a completely neoliberal position. We have sold assets for half what it cost to build them. We have sold the assets in Project Eagle to Cerberus for a song. It is going to make a fortune on it, yet the Minister is trying to tell us we got the best possible return. If we got the best possible return, Cerberus could not be making a fraction of what it is going to make on it. It does not stack up. It is rubbish.

  No one would be well having contemplated what is happening here. We have put a lot into this in trying to get the truth out. There is nothing I have said in here or outside this Chamber that has been proved to be wrong. I want the Minister of State, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to try to contradict that because it is not true. I have not told one lie in here or outside the Chamber.

  This is not going away. If it is the last thing I do, I am going to get to the truth of this and I am going to expose what has gone on. We are setting up an organisation called We have got help from the people who fixed up Snowden, The Intercept, and we are going to invite members of the public to come forward with information where they feel they have been badly treated by NAMA, banks or investment funds. We are inviting insiders with information, who will have 100% confidentiality, to send us documents that are truthful in order to address this rottenness that exists in how we do business in this country and how they do business in Northern Ireland. They are no worse up there than we are down here, there is a pair of us in it. Our credibility at international level is going to suffer unless the Government has the gumption and the balls to actually go after the truth, because it is not showing any. I am gutted that Fianna Fáil is not showing it either.

  Amendment put.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 30 June 2016.

Energy Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Deputy Gino Kenny is the next speaker. As he has not yet arrived, I call Deputy Thomas P. Broughan.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute on the Energy Bill 2016, which has its origins in an earlier Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. I have long called for the reform of the Commission for Energy Regulation, CER, but I am strongly opposed to the inclusion of water in the CER's remit and believe the additional powers being given to it, while welcome, may do little to improve competition in the energy sector. In recent Dáil terms I have been an outspoken critic of the weakness of the CER and its lack of action over many years on price transparency and market concentration in energy. The renaming of the CER as the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, CRU, provided for in this Bill, seems just an administrative step purely due to the inclusion of the regulation of water services in its remit. Apart from the name change, what will the Bill do to actually strengthen the CER's market regulatory power? There is no provision to include, for example, motor and heating oil in the remit of the CER, despite the fact many of the complaints made by our constituents over the years relate to the failure of oil companies to promptly pass on falling oil and gas wholesale prices to consumers while, of course, any higher spikes in the prices of these fuels were immediately passed on to drivers and households.

The neoliberal model of privatising essential services and turning citizens into customers for those services, pioneered in the United States and the United Kingdom from the early 1980s, is reflected in section 4, or Part 2, of this Bill. The Water Services Act 2013, which I fiercely opposed, expanded the CER's remit to include the so-called "economic regulation of water services". Section 4 now reiterates that change in the alteration to the new title of Commission of Regulation of Utilities, CRU. Like the Water Services Act, this change of role is predicated on the future privatisation of water supplies. The fact the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil Administration, which we now have in this Dáil, has strongly retained the Irish Water company model shows that, despite their protestations, these parties both have future plans to privatise domestic and commercial water supplies. The experience of the gas, electricity and oil markets is clearly to be replicated in water, in the first instance through Irish Water.

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