Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Call for CAB to investigate Irish Nationwide

24 March, 2009

Delivering his party’s pre-budget statement in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD said the Taoiseach must give serious consideration to state intervention to save private sector jobs. Deputy Morgan also called for a Criminal Assets Bureau to investigation into Irish Nationwide.

Full text of Deputy Morgan’s speech follows:

"I stress that the economy was brought to this pass not by international factors but by the disastrous policies pursued by Fianna Fáil-led governments for over a decade. It has been stated that no-one shouted ‘stop’. That is not correct. Many people shouted stop and we in Sinn Féin were among them. We pointed out that the property boom was unsustainable and it was a recipe for disaster for the Government to rely on that bubble for so much of its revenue. That fundamental policy failure lies at the root of the crisis in our public finances.

"Last autumn the Government panicked. It rushed into an emergency early budget in October without having a clear picture of what was going on in the economy. It was primarily a PR exercise so the government could be seen to be doing something. But it was unnecessary and the rush led to more disastrous decisions.

"The Government obeyed its conservative reflex and lashed out at public services, cutting health and education and then imposing the so-called public service pension levy, which is really a levy on public service. The Government succeeded in bringing older people, students and organised workers out in numbers not seen on our streets since the anti-Iraq war march of 2003, the hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981 and the tax marches of 1979.

"It was inevitable that those mobilisations would be followed by strike action. Sinn Féin supports the decision of trade unions and workers to take part in next Monday’s national strike. The blame for industrial unrest lies squarely at the Government’s door. We are calling on the Government to engage with trade unions in an effort to avert the action. However if the strike does go ahead as planned any disruptions that arise are the responsibility of Brian Cowen and his Government.

"The ICTU called for the national strike in protest against the Government’s handling of the economic crisis. ICTU have published a 10 point plan for national recovery –There is a Better, Fairer Way’- which sets out the key elements of the campaign platform and which is to be commended.

"Since the time of the so-called "cheapest bailout in the world" the Minister has made one blunder after another in his fundamentally flawed strategy to save the banks. Each time you intervene whether it is through recapitalisation or nationalisation you tell us that this latest measure will be enough.

"And while all these schemes, which have poured literally billions of euro of tax payers money into our banks our beloved senior bankers are getting away with more embezzlement. It is simply incredible that while the Government was in the process of Guaranteeing Irish Nationwide Michael Fingleton was collecting a million euro bonus. He has used Irish Nationwide for well over 30 years as his own personal bailwick. Dominating Nationwide Board of Directors in the way that he did - Fingleton’s million euro bonus and 26 million euro pension was basically Fingleton ordering himself to pay himself money.

"A number of weeks ago, when the evidence of Anglo cooking the books was surfaced, I had called for the criminal assets bureau to investigate that Bank and I am this evening calling for a CAB investigation of Irish Nationwide.

"While one scandal after another is surfacing from our corrupt banking institutions there is still no clear evidence that the Government are reforming corporate governance. It is corporate governance that is crucial in restoring confidence in our banking system.

"It is evident now that banking institutions without radical intervention are in terminal decline. If the Government does not intervene in the form of nationalisation our banks are finished and a number of SMEs and family homes are finished as well.

"The €4.7 billion or possibly €5 billion which is being sought will mean nothing if another 300,000 people are laid off by the end of the year. Because of your obsession with cut backs and our doomed zombie banks, jobs are being lost and thousands of workers are being cut back to 2 days a week. You have done basically nothing to stop this crisis and you seem to be almost suffering from shock.

"Yesterday we launched a jobs retention and creation strategy so that we can stop the tsunami of unemployment which is sweeping across this country. We have called for a €300 million fund to subsidise jobs in SMEs because our view is that it’s better to use public money to keep people at work rather than to keep people at home. The Taoiseach is going to have to give serious consideration to state intervention in the private sector to save private jobs. We also need increased investment in our schools and public transport.

"A couple of weeks ago you opened up the Pension Reserve Fund to continue you’re never ending bailout of our banks. Well why can’t you actually do something useful for once and actually use the pension reserve fund to finance critical infrastructure projects. Jobs can only be created through increased investment not through cut backs.

"It’s time for the Taoiseach to intervene. And it’s time for the state to empower our SMEs to keep their workers at work." ENDS

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