Adams challenges Labour on sell-off of state assets
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking tonight during the party’s Private Members Motion on the sell-off of state assets attacked the government’s proposals.
He was especially critical of Labour which in the past had ‘championed public services and state ownership of key state assets.
“But no more it seems...Now a Labour Minister is pushing through a conservative economic strategy and is planning to do what Labour said it would never do – sell-off our state assets.
“These include Bord Gais’s energy business and some elements of the ESB’s power generation capacity, as well as the possible sale of some assets of Coillte and the state’s remaining shares in Aer Lingus.
“These are successful state companies that should be part of a job creation strategy that is part and parcel of the solution to creating jobs and delivering growth. They shouldn’t be sold off to private interests whose sole interest is profit.
“There is no commitment in the Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika for the sell-off of state assets. Sinn Féin has met with the Troika and they told us that while they believe in privatisation, that the Memorandum of Understanding does not bind Fine Gael and Labour to this sell-off of state assets.
“This is a decision taken by the government. And claims that this sell-off will raise one billion, at some undetermined time in the future for job creation, have to be set against the government’s decision to give away taxpayers money to unguaranteed bondholders and bad banks. €20 billion to the banks last year and €3.1 billion to Anglo-Irish bank at the end of next month.
“This money could be put to productive use in the economy; it could be used to create jobs. Instead is being paid into a zombie bank.”
The Louth TD warned Labour backbenchers and supporters that part of the privatisation agenda experience internationally has been to attack the trade union movement. He called on the trade union leadership to demand ‘that the Labour Party come clean on how many other public companies or state assets will be privatised and at what cost to workers, their families and communities and consumers?’
The Sinn Féin leader added that the “selling-off of state assets will have a social cost. Privatisation negatively impacts on the most vulnerable in society, and especially on women. The international experience is that the disadvantaged status of women relative to men in the workplace is worsened.
“Did any of the Labour TDs, especially those who champion the rights of women, even consider this before signing up to privatisation? These are the very real social consequences of these decisions. What type of society will be left when we have sold off our natural resources, which Pat Rabbitte has already expedited? What kind of society will we have if there is no public airline, no public energy body, no post services, and no forestry body?
“What kind of society will be left when they have sold off our performing, essential state assets? It isn’t good enough for Labour to try to blame others for the decisions it is taking. Surely if there is any purpose in Labour being in government with Fine Gael it is to prevent this type of approach. It’s not too late. The Labour leadership should reverse course.”