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Doherty calls for bankers bonuses to be returned to the State in Seanad debate on National Pension Reserve Fund

5 March, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking in the Seanad today on the National Pension Reserve Fund Bill Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty tabled an amendment calling for all bonuses that have been accrued by executives in the two main banks over the past three years to be returned to the state.

He said, "We, in Sinn Féin, have repeatedly called on the Minister to use the National Pensions Reserve Fund in productive investment in projects to ensure that we get the country back to work and to ensure that we get delivered the social services for which the people are crying out.

"We all know that there was a drug in banking society, but also in the elite in Irish society, which was based on profit, bonuses and a merry-go-round that they thought would never end, and they are holding the rest of us, the workers of the country, to ransom. All of this was based on irresponsible borrowing by the banks and locked the Irish financial system into a cycle which, as my party has previously highlighted could only end in disaster.

"It was not the case that nobody shouted stop. Sinn Féin shouted stop but the problem was that the Government was not prepared to listen. The people are now paying the price for that rampant irresponsibility by bankers, by developers, but also by the Government, which failed to listen, which failed to take action, and which will commit to put every man, woman and child in the State into debt, increase their taxes and increase the pain to ensure that those who got us into this difficulty continue to be bailed out.

"I have tabled an amendment to deal with the bonuses that have been accrued by executives within these financial institutions over the past three years. In this amendment my party asks that all bonuses collected as part of his or her remuneration in that financial institutions over the past three years be paid back to the State. Some of these executives have received millions in bonuses per year over these three years.

"A question needs to be asked, and I know the answer to it. Did they earn that money? Did they deserve that money? We cannot reward people who exploited the Irish economy and who put us into this disaster. We speak about it - we heard it from the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis - that these bankers are as bad as Cromwell. Would the Minister of State pay Cromwell a couple of million euros per year? Would he pay him bonuses like that? If the Minister of State does not accept this amendment he is allowing the people who put us in this place to continue earning the same type of money.

"One must remember the important aspect of this. After this Bill passes, which no doubt it will, it is the Irish people, the taxpayers, it is the mothers and fathers who were sending their children to special needs classes which were taken away by the Government just two weeks ago so that they are now in mainstream classes, who are paying these executives their bonuses and wages. It is the woman who is lying on a trolley in an accident and emergency department who is paying these executives their bonuses and their millions in wages. The people demand that the Government take action and I put forward these amendments in order that this action can be taken." ENDS

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