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Dormant Account Fund proposal is a recipe for pork barrel politics

3 February, 2005


Speaking during the Dáil debate today on Dormant Accounts Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe acknowledged the use of the accounts for public benefit as "positive and welcome" but he criticised as "pork barrel politics" proposed changes to the Bill, which would give the Government parties and the Minister in particular control over how the funds were dispersed.

Deputy Crowe said, "Every Member of this House recognises that the decision to use the dormant accounts fund for public benefit was a positive and welcome development. It is far better that these funds be used to target disadvantage in our society than to remain dormant in some sort of never-never land where they would only benefit the financial institutions that held them.

"I do not have a difficulty with the way it was administrated at present. However, I have a major problem with the changes proposed in the Bill. The Minister and the Government are giving themselves increased powers in terms of deciding which projects should or should not receive grants. That is a definite step backwards.

"Nobody objects to the fund being administrated more efficiently and in a more accountable manner. However, the Government are treating the fund like a bag of goodies to be handed out. Government Deputies will parade around constituencies boasting about their generosity and that of the Minister. We have seen this before. They act as if it is their money and as if they are giving it away out of the goodness of their hearts. This is people's money and it should be used in a properly planned, fair, accountable and effective way. The type of behaviour to which I refer demeans not only those who engage in it but also politics and politicians in general.

"The dormant accounts fund is being treated like a pork barrel, as they say in America. What we are seeing is pork barrel politics. The dormant accounts fund is a slush fund. The Bill should be withdrawn and the Minister should listen to the Opposition and those working in the community sector. If it is not withdrawn, we will have no choice but to reject it." ENDS

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