Order of Business (Continued)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 228 No. 9

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator Denis O'Donovan: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan] It is worthy of an urgent debate.
  I also wish to pay tribute to the Garda Síochána for the tremendous work it does in keeping our citizens and homes safe each day and keeping the criminals off the street. Sometimes we take gardaí for granted and we seem to hone in on the perhaps 0.5% of people who might have caused a bad name to be given to the Garda. I was startled by a headline and story in the Irish Examiner this morning. Yesterday, Garda intelligence foiled the springing of a dangerous criminal from the Circuit Court in Limerick. The plan was that six armed gunmen on motorbikes would storm the courthouse, which normally has two unarmed gardaí. Judge Moran was sitting. One can imagine the devastation that would have caused. The audacity, cheek and tenacity of the criminals who would do such a thing would put Al Capone in the ha'penny place.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Well said.

Senator Denis O'Donovan: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan That is what our gardaí are dealing with. I am sure the Acting Leader, on behalf of the House, will convey our sincere gratitude to the Garda for what it has done this year and wish the force a successful Christmas. All over the country this year there have been examples of the success of the Garda in preventing crime and murders and keeping our homes safe. That is my prime point.

  Second, I call again for an urgent debate on fishing quotas. In this regard, I move an amendment to the Order of Business, that the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Coveney, come to the House today, as a matter of urgency, to discuss the news that 300 jobs in our decimated fishing industry will be lost in the southern part of Ireland because of a reduction in quotas. There have been severe reductions in quotas for plaice, haddock and prawns. This is a serious issue in the south. The Minister tries to put forward a positive spin by pointing to a 25% increase in a certain quota, but that is a 25% increase on an extremely low base. It is appalling that we are losing through a reduction in the very valuable prawn quota, for example. The French have ten times our quota for fishing in our seas, but they are only using a small amount of it.

  Successive Governments, including past Fianna Fáil Ministers, have neglected to act properly for fishermen in this country. It is a shame to see the French, Spanish, Dutch and other nationalities, who hardly know where Ireland is on the map, coming to our shores and taking away our valuable resource. I demand that the Minister come to the House today for an urgent discussion on the decimation and decline of our fishing industry.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden It is piracy on the high seas.

Senator Michael Comiskey: Information on Michael Comiskey Zoom on Michael Comiskey I congratulate the newly elected president of the IFA, Mr. Eddie Downey from Meath. I started my public life with him in 1997. I also extend my congratulations to the deputy president, Mr. Tim O'Leary from Cork. We look forward to working with them over the next four years. Many of the issues are out of the way but we look forward to the finalising of the Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, arrangements and, hopefully, the announcement shortly of the Pillar 2 funding. Farming is facing exciting and challenging times in the future and there are great prospects as we move forward to implement the proposals in the 2020 plan.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I support Senator Darragh O'Brien. He did the Seanad and the nation a great service by raising the issue of the apparent corruption in some areas of NAMA. The Seanad should be given full credit for this. I noticed that throughout the media it disappeared and that it was suddenly credited to the Dáil, but it was Senator Darragh O'Brien and this House that really exposed it. The House owes the Senator a vote of commendation for this. Also, the issue in this House in terms of the legislation on that body was the series of Chinese walls, the privacy, the lack of freedom of information and the lack of openness and transparency throughout NAMA. From now on it should be far more accountable.

  I was very disturbed to hear the reports about vegetables such as brussels sprouts, potatoes and so forth being sold for about 6 cent in the supermarkets. That is below-cost selling. I was probably the only Member of this House who opposed the removal of the groceries order, and it was for this reason. I knew that small Irish businesses would be driven out of existence by multinational conglomerates. I am sorry to inform the House that on Christmas Eve the oldest shop in Parnell Street, which is my newsagents and is almost a community hub, will close its doors for the last time. It is partly due to this practice. It is an absolute shame. We should be looking after our communities, particularly at this time. The blather of the Minister today about regulating this, that and the other is not enough. What is required is something to stop these big companies crucifying the small suppliers and putting them out of business if they do not play ball and become their single supplier.

  I second Senator O'Donovan's amendment requiring the Minister to come to the House. I know it is unrealistic because the Minister is over in Brussels, probably counting the sprouts, but it is a very important matter. Senator O'Donovan has been leading on this. He is one of the most important people in either House to raise these issues. It is a type of European piracy, because we were too stupid to realise the resources we had. The Minister might not be in the country but as a protest against the betrayal of the Irish fishing industry and the loss of 300 jobs, I second the amendment and I hope Senator O'Donovan calls a vote.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke If there are genuine issues and concerns in respect of NAMA, and it appears there are, the appropriate authority to investigate them is the Garda. Any information people receive should be conveyed to the Garda. It is important to bear in mind also that valuations carried out even six months ago are now out of date because the market has changed.

  I received a telephone call in the last week regarding a property that was sold at a public auction. A large number of properties were being sold, but the property concerned was not on the catalogue and was not advertised, yet it was purchased at the public auction. That raised concerns. Certainly, the person who contacted me raised concerns as how a property could be sold at a public auction without it being on the auction catalogue. Perhaps there is a logical explanation, but it raises questions. If anything untoward is happening in respect of what are now State assets, there must be transparency and full disclosure. It is important that valuable information is not leaked to a small number of people who can gain financially from that. Anybody who has relevant information should not hesitate to contact the Garda and the Garda Commissioner and convey that information, so a thorough investigation can be conducted into the matter.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Deirtear sa Ghaeilge, cuir síoda ar ghabhar agus is gabhar i gcónaí é. Sílim go bhfuair muid léiriú eile de sin inné leis an bplean eacnamaíoch a chuir an Rialtas seo amach, mar níl sa phlean eacnamaíoch ach píosaí tarraingthe le chéile ó ráitis éagsúla agus seoltaí éagsúla a déanadh le bliain anuas. I ndáiríre, tá sé scanallach gur chosain sé €70,000 ar an gcáiníocóir leis an PR pack sin a chur le chéile.

  I echo the support voiced this morning for Mr. Eddie Downey, the new leader of the IFA. I wish him well in his new role.

  Like Senator O'Donovan and Senator Norris, I have grave concerns about the deal that was done overnight on the fisheries quota. As has been said, the Irish fisheries industry has been decimated over a number of years. The EU has been very detrimental to the fishing industry in Ireland, which is the reason so many young people have left the industry. I was talking to fishermen this morning and they are totally frustrated by the deal that has been made. They believe it will be detrimental to them, as they have lost important quotas that they needed to keep. They are also very frustrated by the broader picture. They still see huge factory ships sailing off our coasts which are taking huge amounts of fish. There appears to be scant policing of them, while the authorities here are very strict on the Irish fleet.

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