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Lenihan cannot be trusted with National Pension Reserve Fund – Morgan

3 March, 2009

Speaking in the Dáil this evening on the National Pension Reserve Fund Bill Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD said given the failure of the Minister for Finance to deal with the banking crisis thus far he would dread giving him a carte blanche to raid the pension fund whenever he feels like it. He accused the Government of being prisoners of their own alliances referring to their friends in the banking sector and their inability to name the so-called golden circle.

Deputy Morgan said, "I would like to begin by expressing my opposition and the opposition of my party to this legislation. We have opposed the recapitalisation of AIB and BOI be0cause what the Government is in effect doing is handing over to the banks €7 billion worth of tax payers money without seeing sufficient material return.

"In the past 6 weeks the Government has taken thousands of euro from the budgets of low and middle income families through the pension levy, you have cut back on special needs education and you are in process of imposing the most damaging of health care cut backs that the country has experienced since the 1980s. And all of this is being done for the benefit of the banks.

"The legislation before us effectively proposes to give the Minister for Finance a carte blanche to raid the pension fund whenever and however he wants provided it is for his pals in the banking sector and he decides that it will rectify a serious economic disturbance. Given the Minister's abysmal failure to deal with the banking crisis so far, I am dreading the notion that the Minister will be given such discretion.

"At the time of the budget my party had made a proposal for the use of the pension fund for critical infrastructure so we could fight the recession and preserve jobs. Despite the obvious need for investment in job creation and job retention, you are continuing with your exclusive focus on the banks while cutting back on public services.

"There is nothing in this Bill which enables the use of pension reserve fund for labour intensive transport infrastructure; there is nothing here for the building of new schools and there is nothing for our other public services which would have a far more positive impact on our economy than what is current being done with our financial institutions. So what this legislation is all about is using the pension for the Government's only real concern which is your banking friends.

"And I think this conflict of interest is exactly what is wrong with the Government. It is Because of your corrupt relationship with dodgy developers, with the bankers and other special interest groups you are now prisoners of your own alliances. You are not able to rein in the banks because you would be basically reining in yourselves. And you are not able to name the Golden Ten because you would be revealing your own people.

"Finally I would just like to remind the Minister of when he unwisely boasted at the time of the Bank Guarantee that this 'was the cheapest bailout in the world'. Well this Guarantee has left with a potentially crippling debt of €440 billion. And with the recapitalisation we are now on the verge of using our last stash of money to pay for the mistakes of the banks. It is the banks that should pay and not the workers and SMEs. We will therefore oppose this legislation." ENDS

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