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Response to Moriarty Tribunal - Golden circle still exists

19 December, 2006

Commenting on the publication of the Report of the Moriarty Tribunal, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

"No-one will be surprised with the findings in this Report on the personal finances of the late Charles J. Haughey. The manner in which he conducted himself while holding high office has been well exposed before now and is confirmed by the Report.

"What is equally if not more important is the light the Report sheds on the relationship between privileged people in politics, big business and financial services. Charles Haughey benefited from this relationship. While small customers were treated by AIB with the utmost severity, the privileged, such Mr. Haughey, were allowed to default on huge debts. As an Ansbacher account holder, the late Taoiseach was one of a select few wealthy Irish people facilitated in hiding their money off shore and evading tax in the 1980s. This was when our hospitals and schools and other public services were being cut back or closed, when unemployment was at record levels and when communities were ravaged by the heroin crisis.

"That era has also left a legacy of appalling planning as a result of which communities are still suffering.

"While legislation has made it more difficult for politicians to personally benefit from such dealings, a golden circle still exists. This is where decisions have been taken by Government against the public interest and in the interest of their friends in big business. These decisions include:

· The changing of Part V of the Planning and Development Act after intensive lobbying from developers. The original Part V required developers to provide 20% social and affordable housing in all developments. This was changed by the FF/PD Government at the developers' behest so that they can buy their way out of their obligations by paying money to local authorities. As a direct result lower income families have been deprived of homes.

· The unbridled control of the housing market by land speculators and the building industry with house prices beyond the reach of people on above-average incomes.

· The granting of major tax concessions to developers of private hospitals. Former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy admitted that he brought in this concession after lobbying from a private hospital developer in his constituency. Mary Harney has extended the concession by making public hospital land available to developers of private hospitals.

· The ongoing robbery of our natural gas and oil resources by multinationals who have been handed these resources by successive governments, including the present administration.

· Public contracts for private developers and property speculators that have seen the public purse ripped off. A prime example is the purchase at over twice the market value of the Thornton Hall lands for the proposed super-prison.

· The privatisation of Eircom to the benefit of multi-millionaires such as Tony O'Reilly and at the expense of many thousands of conned small shareholders and with the result that we have a sub-standard telecommunications infrastructure in the hands of a private monopoly.

· The privatisation of Aer Lingus, despite the experience of the disastrous Eircom privatisation.

"All of these measures are legal but totally unethical and against the public interest. The Moriarty Report states that the conduct of Charles Haughey 'devalued the quality of modern democracy'. That devaluation continues to this day and has done so under successive administrations." ENDS

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