Monthly Archives: August 2015

07/05/15 Senator Daly speaks to the Seanad on Europe Day and the European Commission’s work programme

Senator Daly: I welcome that we are having a debate on Europe Day. It is appropriate to have it and my colleague, Senator Leyden, will be taking the debate for Fianna Fáil. There are many issues to consider in this context and I raise an issue I raised yesterday in regard to the Commission’s work programme from which it is clear that it wants to take away Ireland’s corporate tax advantage by ensuring that any profits generated by companies based in Ireland will be paid in the country where it perceives they are generated. In this consumer age where Internet banking and Internet sales and activity are done in cyber space, it will be difficult for the Commission to define how a product is sold in Germany if it is bought through an Irish-based company. The EU is determined to take away our corporate tax advantage and that proposal is included in the work programme. Its work programme has been passed apparently by a committee of these Houses and brought before the House without having been debated. That is not the scrutiny or the transparency that we had hoped for or that the Government had promised, having regard to allowing this proposal to remain in the Commission’s the work programme. It should be removed and Ireland should seek its removal.

I note that today’s newspapers are full of more election promises for members of the public sector who are in line to gain €800 euro each. If the previous generosity of the Government with regard to the public sector is anything to go by, the money will go to those at the top end not to those at the bottom. Let us break down the €800 figure. This year we will borrow €4.6 billion, which works out at €2,500 per working person. What the Government is doing is borrowing money to buy votes.

It will borrow €2,500 per person and having borrowed that amount on behalf of the public sector, it will give each of them each back €800. That is three-card-trick economics at its best.

We can also note that 250 people in this country have assets of €76 billion while the combined net worth of half the population is €63 billion. Some of those 250 people with their billions in assets are not even paying the €200,000 exile tax that the Government imposed. It has not collected that tax, those people are not being pursued for it yet they have assets worth more than the assets of half of the population combined. The Government is saying that this is okay. Those people who are tax exiles are based all over Europe on this Europe Day. They live in Monte Carlo and places where the sun shines a lot more than it shines here. Yet, even the Government’s tax policy with respect to the domiciliary levy is not being collected from those people who can well afford to pay it. When we consider we will borrow €2,500 per working person and then give public sector workers a pay increase, that represents three-card-trick economics at its finest. I ask on this Europe Day that the Government pursue those people who are not paying the €200,000 levy and to name and shame them.

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06/05/15 Senator Daly speaks to the Seanad on the Appointment of Receivers

Senator Daly: The amendment put down by the Government side is at variance with what Senator Conway has just spoken about, however. It states “there is no compelling evidence that this sector requires the introduction of regulations to govern the conduct of receivers”. There was the case of Paul O’Shea in County Kildare where the receivers had Alsatian dogs and wore balaclavas. This was reminiscent of what the RIC, Royal Irish Constabulary, did when it evicted people 100 years ago.

—-Later—-

Senator Daly: This is not an isolated incident; this is what happening now. This long-term solution is not a solution.

When the Minister for Justice and Equality brought in legislation for the mortgage arrears issue, there were going to be insolvency agents and practitioners. However, any solution that could be put in place could be vetoed by the banks. Somehow or other as Senator Mullen said, asking banks and receivers to look towards the better angels of their human nature is at variance with what banks and receivers do. Receivers and banks make profits. They do not act in the best interests of anyone only the laws of profit. For my colleagues opposite to claim there is no need for regulation when people are arriving at houses with balaclavas is defying the facts. Colleagues opposite claimed there was no need to ensure that the banks did not have a veto, but now the Government is suggesting taking away or curtailing the banks’ veto in order to force them to do what people on this side of the House and people in the Irish Mortgage Holders Association said was necessary. Once a bank is given a veto, the bank will use the veto. As a result people have been evicted from their houses and the taxpayer is footing the bill in order to find accommodation for people who have been evicted.

Part of the amendment basically commends the Government on its work. It states that the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 is not the appropriate means to address this issue and proposes an amendment to another Act, the Residential Tenancy Act 2004, as the way to proceed. All of that counts for nothing because of the Government’s intention to keep the matter under review. This is while the men with balaclavas are arriving at 2 a.m. Does that sound like something that needs a long-term solution? The solution is required now. There is no regulation. The reason no regulation was introduced ten years ago was that there was no need for it because receivers were not arriving with balaclavas, but they are doing so now.

Today we will get a reply written by the same people who probably wrote the reply when I asked how many times the former Minister for Justice and Equality met representatives of the banks to discuss the veto by the banks in personal insolvency legislation. The former Minister would not answer the question. I put it to him that the banks wrote the legislation. I asked for the minutes of the meetings he had with the banks. The banks wrote the legislation to allow them to veto solutions for mortgage holders in arrears.

A year and a half on, we have a crisis. It was entirely predictable and here it is. Let us predict another crisis, but in fact it has already arrived. These institutions are acting like thugs, coming in the night, not as they should under regulations. The word “guidelines” is has been used. That is all they are and nobody has to observe them. They can ignore them and tear them up. That is not good enough. There need to be consequences. People must abide by law and regulation. This is the wild west of taking property from people. There is no law. An international financial newspaper once described Ireland as the wild west of banking. That was predicted ten years before the crash and what happened is exactly what happens when there is no regulation. The banks did what they do. They make a profit. They all get a bonus and all walk off with their pensions leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab.

What happens when there is no regulation dealing with the issue of people taking property? At least the RIC used to show up in daylight. Police officers would knock down the door. There was law and it was not on the side of the people. However, now there is no regulation and those concerned can show up at any hour of any day and do what they want, aided and abetted by gardaí. Gardaí observe while the mercenaries bulldoze down people’s doors and take their property.

The Government will keep the matter under review. That will be of great solace of those who are woken in the middle of the night. I am tired of hearing my colleagues opposite bemoaning that some of the receivers have sent in thugs, it is terrible and we should do something. The place to do it is here and the time to do it is not in the future but now. However, the Government will keep the matter under review.

The Minister of State will not be happy with some of the wording of the amendment which states that, “there is no compelling evidence that this sector requires the introduction of regulations to govern the conduct of receivers”. However, we read about it in the newspapers. Action is, of course, required now. After the Minister of State gives his response I ask him to bring it back to his colleagues and let them know that action is required now.

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06/05/15 Senator Daly Speaks to the Seanad and Minister of State for Finance Simon Harris on the Spring Economic Statements

Senator Daly: I welcome the Minister and I hope he does not have to run for President because I am sure he will be Taoiseach. Maybe he will run for President after he has been Taoiseach.

Last week a survey of 27 countries ranked people’s trust in Government, business, NGOs and the media. Ireland ranked the worst, with only one in five having trust in those former pillars of society. We all know the various reasons for that, the crisis in charities in the case of NGOs and the banking sector in the case of business. In Ireland, people’s level of trust in the elites was the lowest of all the 27 countries surveyed. Those countries included China, which says a lot about Irish people’s confidence in politics.

The reason for this is the lack of equity in our system. I do not know if the Minister read it but there was an interesting piece in the Irish Independentat the weekend which stated that some 260 people controlled €76 billion in assets and that the bottom half of the population have €56 billion among them all. That is a level of inequity that is staggering and it is not going to get any better as the wealthy have got wealthier in this crisis. I recall the infamous words of former US President George W. Bush when, addressing a crowd at a fundraising event, he welcomed the haves and the have-mores. Some of these people caused the crisis and now people view them as having profited from it.

Some of the issues brought up by my colleagues opposite show why there is a lack of confidence in the political system, such as the charge against this and previous governments that they are borrowing money to buy votes. When we cannot balance the books, the idea of giving ourselves a pay increase as politicians is hardly likely to improve our poll ratings. The confidence of the Irish people and people in the 27 countries that were polled will not be restored when they understand that the proposal for public sector pay increases involves politicians also getting a pay increase, and borrowing money to do so. That is, unfortunately, one of the proposals.

—Later—

Senator Daly: Thank you. Unfortunately, the Department and the Minister for Social Protection stated that the advisory group was not convinced that there was a need for an extension of social insurance for the self-employed to provide cover for jobseekers. The Senator might take that up with his Minister and, if we were to put down a motion, I hope he would support it.

There should be equity for all. There should be a living wage but how we get to the concept of a living wage is a difficult matter because a minimum wage is not the same as a living wage. When one is better off on social welfare than working there is a problem. When families are better off not accepting jobs and remaining on social welfare the system is not working. Equity is what we are looking for. A levy on banks was suggested because they would not bring down their variable rates and we could do that. We could also bring in legislation. There are a number of other things the Government could do but it must do something because the banks are causing another crisis in our housing sector by putting people under so much pressure. They are vetoing the mortgage resolutions and forcing the taxpayer to pick up the bill because when people lose the roof over their heads they require housing at the expense of the taxpayer.

The spring economic statement is part of the new requirements under the fiscal treaty but another new Commission proposal is of great concern and would affect us all. It is one of those creeping, incremental proposals that they keep talking about in Europe until people get so used to hearing it being mentioned that they think it will never happen. Then, one bright breezy day, it does happen. There are ongoing manoeuvres to ensure corporation tax is paid in the countries in which earnings are generated. This is the Commission’s agenda and its aim is to achieve that agenda. As the Minister will be aware, Ireland lost a vote on this being an issue of subsidiarity, having argued that it was for Ireland alone to make the decision. Ireland alone sets its corporation tax rate but the issue is of concern for us because big countries such as France, Germany and Italy would like corporation tax paid where a product is purchased. This might be very hard to prove in the case of Google, which makes many sales through its search engine in Ireland but to Italian customers, as a result of which Italy is demanding its share and Ireland is losing the battle. Our corporation tax rate of 12.5% counts for nothing – what matters is the fact that these companies pay their tax here based on the fact that we are in the European Union. If the proposal for corporation tax to be paid in the country where revenue is generated is successful and Ireland loses the case there will be no money to pay for the things we were talking about. I ask the Minister to continue the fight to prevent companies which are based here because of our corporation tax rate from moving as a result of the big boys in Europe getting their way once again.

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05/05/15 Senator Daly Speaks at the Working Group on Seanad Reform 2015

Senator Daly: I welcome the former Senators to the House. I thank them for the enormous work they undertook in preparing this proposal of reform and the legislation they put together with Brian Hunt, who has done enormous work on reform along with others, such as Mr. Michael McDowell, who have assisted in the putting together of this report. It is amazing that 186 years ago, Daniel O’Connell pursued and succeeded in getting Catholic emancipation, 96 years ago women succeeded in getting the vote, and 46 years ago in Derry, people marched for one man, one vote, and I am sure they included women in that statement, but today, 2.6 million people who are citizens under the Constitution of this State are disenfranchised by virtue of the fact that we do not allow the Irish overseas and those outside the jurisdiction to vote in any format, whether it be in the Dáil, presidential or even Seanad elections. That is the reason I welcome the proposal that votes would be extended to the diaspora and to those in the North. Approximately 800,000 Irish passport holders live outside the State, which is the equivalent of populations of the cities of Galway, Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick combined, and they are not entitled to vote. If one includes those residing in the North, which is 1.2 million people, that is a considerable number of people who are not entitled to vote in this democracy. There are 196 countries in the world, 120 of which allow their citizens overseas to vote. The Government held a Constitutional Convention and the proposal to extend the franchise to emigrants and residents in the North in presidential elections, while passed unanimously by those at the convention, was not supported by the Government when we discussed reform. That leads me to worry about the real substantive reform the former Senators have proposed in the report before us. We are having a referendum on the Presidency but it is not about extending voting rights to citizens overseas but about reducing the age of eligibility for presidential candidates on the off chance that someone under the age of 35 who would like to run for the President would be entitled to do so. That is not reform by any measure. In the context of the report, the former Senators outlined a number of logistical issues with respect to the ballot papers. I look forward to having sight of the legislation. As the former Senator, Mr. O’Toole, pointed out, a number of ministerial orders will be required to address the logistical issues with respect to the ballot papers, but I agree with him that it is doable and that it would not be costly.

The awareness and registration of the electorate concerns me given the parameters that it should be shared across the five panels. I propose that the current register in this State would be allocated automatically but that people would be allowed subsequently to transfer.

A novel proposal regarding the cost involved has been put forward, which I believe happened in a previous Seanad election. There would be a low level of participation if people, even in this State, were asked to download the ballot paper. I understand that in a previous Seanad election where an emergency situation arose as a result of the vote being very tight, the Seanad Chamber was turned into a post office for the purposes of people casting their ballots. While such a suggestion would be a novel proposal, I suggest that on polling day the polling stations would be transferred for the purposes of allowing people to vote. Also, I propose that at the time people are given their ballot paper of candidates for the Dáil election that they would also be given their ballot paper of candidates for the Seanad election and that the ballot box and the polling station would be deemed to be a post office for the purpose of casting one’s vote in a Seanad election. Those are proposals we can examine.

It is worthy that the former Senators have brought forward the only proposal that would allow Irish passport holders living outside the State to have a vote. With next year being the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, it is appropriate we would join the 120 other States that allow their diaspora and citizens living outside the state to have a vote and that we would allow ours to have a vote in some format in this Oireachtas.

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30/04/15 Senator Daly speaks on the Banking Inquiry

Senator Daly: I quote from The Scarlet Pimpernel:

They seek him here, they seek him there

[They] seek him everywhere

Is he in heaven or is he in hell?

That damned elusive Pimpernel

Today, we see the very elusive Scarlet Pimpernel of European banking, Mr. Jean-Claude Trichet, appear, but not appear, before the banking inquiry. He is in Kilmainham and will answer some questions from members of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis. It is quite amazing that the European Central Bank is displaying such arrogance and disregard for the Irish Government and Irish people. We were told it did not appear before national parliaments, but it does. It appeared before the Italian finance committee and answered questions from and yet it refused to appear before our inquiry. That is the arrogance of the European Central Bank and the Scarlet Pimpernel of that institution, Mr. Jean-Claude Trichet.

The Government has been given, to put it diplomatically, the two fingers not only by the European Central Bank but also by the Irish banks, some of which have said they will not reduce the variable mortgage interest rate despite the Government’s promise to deploy the four horses of the apocalypse if they did not. The Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank have said they will not do so. The Government’s mettle is now being tested. It is being asked again to stand up for the Irish people and impose the levies or bring in the legislation that would force the banks to reduce the rate. Will the Government do it? The track record shows that it probably will not.

A leading bank CEO is getting paid €365,000 per year, or €7,000 per week or €1,000 per day, for doing a job in the same bank he was in charge of when the whole thing fell apart. We will not name him.

—Later—

Senator Daly: I did not want to be ruled out of order for naming Richie. Individuals with a variable rate mortgage of €200,000 must pay an extra €6,000 per year because of the variable rate and because the Government will not stand up for them. Would they not love one week’s wages of that bank CEO to pay back the money he is robbing from them because the Government will not stand up for them?

An Cathaoirleach: The Senator should not use the word “robbing” in relation to a person he has already identified.

Senator Daly: All right. He is not robbing it; he is taking it legally. The Government said he should not do it, so I hope it will bring in legislation to ensure this activity is regarded as robbing.

I praise TG4 for an excellent documentary it showed last night on the life of Tom Barry, an extraordinary gentlemen whose father was in the RIC. He was in the British Army himself and was serving in Iraq when he heard about the 1916 Rising. He was involved in the War of Independence and had such regard for Michael Collins that Mr. Collins’s family asked him to give the speech at the unveiling of a monument to Mr. Collins. He spoke about the tragedy of the Civil War. TG4’s excellent documentary was a great exposéof information regarding the famous ambush at Kilmichael. Mr. Peter Hart, the author of what could only be described as a tissue of lies and a book of fraud, should apologise to the families of those involved in the Kilmichael ambush for making up what has now been revealed to have been an absolute falsehood. He did an extreme disservice to Tom Barry and the boys of Kilmichael. The record was put straight last night, thanks to TG4.

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