What TDs said in the Dáil overnight


The Dáil passed all stages of emergency legislation to liquidate the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation last night, by 113 votes to 35.

Fianna Fáil and Independent TD Michael Lowry supported the Government in the final vote, which concluded at 2.55am.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told the Dáil the Government was trying to protect the Irish taxpayer and recover some of the ground lost.

Winding up the almost three hours of debate on the Bill, the Minister said they wanted to get the best price possible for the Irish taxpayer.

He said the Government had to take action because they were not in a position to deny the Government was planning to liquidate IBRC and the legislation had been prepared some months ago.

The purpose of the Bill was to put a special liquidator into IBRC so that potentially €14 billion of Irish taxpayers assets were protected, he said.

The liquidator had already taken over premises in Dublin, London and New York and had secured them with security staff. He said they could not give notice of a liquidation or not deny a liquidation and then stand back from it without taking action.

Earlier Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil the lifetime costs including interest of Ireland’s bank debt promissory notes would have hit almost €48 billion.

Mr Kenny said it would have been an enormous burden but the Government was committed to replacing the promissory notes with a new cheaper, longer-term instrument that would ease the burden on the Irish taxpayer.

Speaking in the early hours of this morning on the emergency Bill, Mr Kenny told the Dáil a key element of the restructuring of the promissory notes was the liquidation of the IBRC, the wind-down vehicle of the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

“The Bill is a first step in a final comprehensive restructuring of the heavy obligations placed on the taxpayer from the bailout of these financial institutions,” he said.

The liquidation was necessary to secure the billions worth of assets ultimately owned by the taxpayer, the Taoiseach said.

“The disappearance of the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide from our social and political landscape is long overdue,” he said. “They were emblems of a culture of cronyism that undermined confidence in our economy and political system.”

“They became a stain upon our international reputation and a dent to our national pride,” Mr Kenny added.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the recklessness and greed of a tiny clique had brought the country to the edge of financial ruin.

“These banks, the people who ran them, and the golden circle around them, were the very roots of the crisis which has caused so much distress to the Irish people,” he added.

“In liquidating this institution, we are doing what should have been done on the night of the blanket bank guarantee.”

Mr Gilmore said the current Government was ending Anglo Irish Bank, not scrambling to keep it alive.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin paid tribute to the Minister for Finance for giving a matter-of-fact speech, while he believed the Taoiseach and Tánaiste had been highly political.

“I do not believe Mr Noonan would misrepresent the facts on such a serious issue,” he said, adding that he accepted the Minister’s integrity in the debate.

He said that while the Government had a majority there was still an onus on every member to consider the issue carefully.

“One has to look at the legislation, the rationale and the risk that the State is exposed to,” he said.

Mr Martin said the Opposition too, had a responsibility to accept there are situations where emergency legislation had to be supported.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said this was no way to deal with legislation, particularly a Bill as important as this and experience had shown that rushed legislation was bad legislation.

He said one of the most significant parts of the Minister’s speech was at the end when he said he would have preferred to be introducing this Bill in tandem with a finalised agreement with the ECB.

He said the Government should withdraw the Bill and bring forward the entire package agreed with the ECB.

“What we have here is turning bad banking debt into sovereign debt,” he said. “This was no game changer, this is no seismic shift.”

There would be no relief in what the Government was doing because it was tied to austerity. There had been six austerity budgets which had taken €28 billion out of the economy.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the Bill was probably drawn up months ago and it was giving far too much power to the Minister for Finance and unelected officials.

Independent TD Mick Wallace said the important decisions were now made by people who did not live in Ireland, by the financial markets, financial institutions and auditors.

He said neoliberalism prioritised the concerns of the financial markets and those who flourished from them. This Bill would not bring relief to the Irish people, he said.

Luke Ming Flanagan said the Bill was nothing but cover to remove the promissory notes to the ECB. It would crystallise as national debt, he said. The Bill would save Ireland €800 million a year at most, making the debt very little more sustainable.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said a huge amount of power was being transferred to one individual who would operate in the absence of the kind of oversight that was required. Any deal that did not include a write-down of the debt was not an acceptable deal, the Kildare North TD said.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said we learnt more from Twitter and the internet on the Bill than anything the Government had told the Dáil. The one thing however they did know was that the ECB will get every penny of the promissory note because of this legislation.

Mr Noonan asked TDs if they had ever heard of a liquidation that had been announced one day but not implemented for several days or weeks. He said all liquidations were announced when the liquidator was in.

The assets that are still in the IBRC are worth between €12 and €14 billion.

Anyone who had any worries about the legislation should not concentrate so much on the detail but to look on the purpose of the Bill, he said. This was to put a special liquidator with special powers into IBRC in the morning to ensure that potentially €14 billion of Irish assets were protected.

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