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Sinn Féin publishes motion opposing sale of state assets

25 February, 2012 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin will use Private Members Business in the Dáil next week to introduce a motion opposing the Government’s decision to sell off successful self-financing state assets.

The party will call on Labour and Fine Gael to instead use commercial semi state companies as an engine to Ireland’s economic recovery.

Speaking today on publication of the motion Sinn Féin Deputy Leader and Dáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mary Lou McDonald said:

“Selling off profitable State assets to pay down a tiny fraction of the national debt is a short term measure with a long term cost. Bord Gáis and the ESB are successful self-financing companies that have been delivering first world energy infrastructure across Ireland for generations and providing sustainable jobs benefitting generations of families.

“The potential economic, social and environmental benefits of Ireland’s commercial semi state companies have yet to be fully realised. Sinn Féin’s motion calls on the Government to reverse its decision to sell off profitable State assets and instead to work directly with commercial semi state management to deliver a strategic plan for job creation and training.

“Flogging off the last of the State’s share in Aer Lingus for small change makes absolutely no sense. Retaining the State’s remaining 25% share in Aer Lingus is vital to ensure Ireland’s connectivity to Europe, the US and the rest of the world. Guaranteeing the future of the airline’s Heathrow slots is also of strategic importance. 

“Coillte is an important rural employer delivering sustainable jobs to parts of the country blighted by record levels of unemployment. Selling off the harvesting rights would not be in the public interest. Instead the Government should be working with the Coillte to develop the massive potential of the forestry sector for timber production, biomass and eco-tourism.”

Full text of the Sinn Féin motion:

“That Dáil Éireann:

— accepts that the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities, chaired by Mr. Colm McCarthy, did not provide adequate analysis or evidence to support its recommendations to privatise State owned assets and enterprises;

— recognises that the sale of strategic successful self-financing commercial semi-State assets is not in the public interest;

— further recognises that Bord Gáis and the ESB have invested heavily in first world energy infrastructure across the island of Ireland, having the effect of safeguarding the State’s energy security, creating tens of thousands of sustainable jobs and benefitting hundreds of thousands of families over the decades;

— agrees that retaining the State’s 25% share in Aer Lingus is vital to ensure Ireland’s connectivity to Europe, the US, and the rest of the world, and that guaranteeing the future of the airline’s Heathrow slots by this retention is of strategic importance;

— further agrees that Coillte is an important rural employer, particularly at the current time, and that the sale of the company’s harvesting rights and any failure by the State and the company to develop the massive potential of the forestry sector for timber production, biomass and eco-tourism will be detrimental to the public interest;

— accepts that using the proceeds from the sale of State assets for bank debt reduction will not relieve the State’s national debt;

— further accepts that the sale of State assets is a short-term measure that will have detrimental long-term economic, social and environmental costs;

— notes the potential economic, social and environmental benefits of commercial semi-State companies have not yet been fully realised;

— further notes the avoidable damage to the economy and disruption in services for consumers arising from industrial unrest resultant solely from the unnecessary sale of strategic State assets;

— mandates the Government to replace NewERA with a Semi-State Strategy Group to include Chief Executive Officers from each of the commercial semi-State companies, with responsibility for delivering a strategic job creation and training project, working directly with the Ministers for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., and Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., and reporting directly to the Taoiseach and the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education;

— instructs that all annual dividends paid to the State by commercial semi-State companies must be reinvested into employment activation and training measures as identified by the Semi-State Strategy Group and approved by the Taoiseach, reporting to the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education; and

— rejects the Government’s decision to sell State assets.” —

Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Sandra McLellan, Jonathan O'Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín.

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