Statement by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D. in Dáil Éireann on Wednesday, 14 February, 2007 in relation to The Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry (Moriarty Tribunal) into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters

Statement by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D. in Dáil Éireann on Wednesday, 14 February, 2007 in relation to The Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry (Moriarty Tribunal) into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters.

 

Ceann Comhairle

What came home very forcefully to me as I read this report is the sheer scale of the amounts of money – over €11 million (or some €45m in today’s values) – found by the Tribunal to have been either privately donated to Mr Haughey or misapplied by him during the period under inquiry from 1979 to 1996.  What struck me even more forcefully were the devices employed to conceal the fact of and the nature of those transactions.  We are indebted to Judge Moriarty and the Tribunal team for their outstanding work in painstakingly stripping away the layers of secrecy and obscurity surrounding Mr Haughey’s financial affairs and exposing them to public scrutiny.  We look forward to receiving the second part of their report soon.

To those of us who knew Mr Haughey, who worked with him over the years, who saw him as a dynamic colleague and leader of exceptional abilities, the detailed revelations in this Report come as a grave disappointment.  Even now, I and others who worked with him in government find it difficult to comprehend the complexity of the man and the other life he led. 

To quote Judge Moriarty:

“ Apart from the almost invariably secretive nature of payments from senior members of the business community, their very incidence and scale, particularly during difficult economic times nationally, and when Governments led by Mr Haughey were championing austerity, can only be said to have devalued the quality of a modern democracy”

It is a harsh and damning indictment.  It is also a great tragedy. 

I said hard things about Mr Haughey and my disappointment at his lapses from the expected high standards on numerous occasions.  I said it at our Ard Fheis in 1997 and in subsequent statements and in interviews.  I stand over those criticisms. 

I also stand over my comments made at Mr Haughey’s funeral and on other occasions that he did a lot of good work for this country.  I believe I was right in those comments and there is no denying that he delivered much political progress but history will be the final judge of that. 

Here, in this forensically detailed Report, we have a judgement on a politician and statesman, who had it in him to be great, but who was seduced by a conviction of personal entitlement that ultimately undermined his vocation to be a true servant of our country and of our people.   Regrettably, the account now presented to us, is that of the private person who failed to live up to the high standards that we are entitled to expect of those in public life, as elected representatives or as office holders.

It is a cause of deep personal hurt that the Report has also found serious misappropriation of donations intended to assist with the medical treatment of the late Brian Lenihan.  The revelation that Mr Haughey, for his own personal benefit, redirected those and other donations, such as the political donations intended for the Fianna Fáil Party, was a matter of grave disappointment for me and for those who worked with him. 

In those times past, the lack of a formal, developed, ethics code and oversight machinery for those in public office no doubt facilitated the years of evasion and deceit that characterised Mr Haughey’s financial dealings, but does not excuse them.  Today we have a highly developed ethics framework that not only provides a mechanism for keeping holders of public office honest, but sets out clearly for them the highest standards of behaviour that they need to meet to earn the public trust.  I refer specifically to the enactment of the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995 and the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001. 

The 1995 Act provided mechanisms for dealing with conflicts of interest in relation to members of the Houses, Ministers and officials in the Civil Service and the wider public service. It established the independent Public Offices Commission and provided for a Select Committee on Members’ Interests in each House of the Oireachtas to oversee its key provisions. It required Members of the Oireachtas, senior civil servants, public board members and senior executives of State bodies to disclose their personal interests in order to provide transparency in decision-making and accountability.  It regulated the acceptance of gifts by office holders.

The 2001 Act, for which I personally pressed, established a new Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission), to be chaired by a judge or former judge of the Supreme or High Court.  It was given wide investigative powers into acts or omissions of public servants or officeholders that are inconsistent with the proper performance of their duties, or that would be inconsistent with the maintenance of public confidence in that performance.

The Commission can engage inquiry officers to conduct preliminary investigations of complaints and indicate whether a case exists for further investigation by the Commission of a matter of significant public importance. The Commission has tribunal powers; it can summon individuals and papers, administer oaths, order discovery and preservation of documents and require the giving of evidence. It is an offence to obstruct an investigation of the Commission or an inquiry officer.

The 2001 Act also provided for the preparation of Codes of Conduct, in consultation with the Commission, for Members, for Office Holders and for directors or others employed by public bodies. These Codes of Conduct deal with the standards of conduct and integrity appropriate to the performance of their public duties by the persons concerned.

The Act also requires Members of the Houses to furnish a tax clearance certificate within nine months of an election. A statutory declaration that the Member’s tax affairs are in order must be made one month either side of the election. Similar arrangements apply to persons appointed to positions as judges or senior public officials.  Penalties for a false declaration were increased from a fine of £50 to one of £2,000 and a term of imprisonment from three to six months.

The result is a strong ethics statutory framework, overseen by a powerful, independent, Standards Commission. 

The strengthening of the ethics framework has also led to the imposition of vigorously enforced standards for the treatment of political donations and expenditure, as set out in the Electoral Acts.

And we are presently preparing proposals to further strengthen the ethics legislation to address issues that arose last Autumn.

As a result of these initiatives, the transparency in the financial affairs of public representatives, now required and enforced by law, stands in sharp contrast to the secretiveness and evasiveness of the transactions revealed in the Tribunal’s Report. 

The Tribunal’s Report also makes a number of other important findings, not least ones relating to myself. 

I refer to the operation of the Leaders Allowance Account and the practice that had progressively evolved for administrative reasons of pre-signing cheques. I accept the view expressed in the Report that the practice was undesirable.  I am happy, however, that the Tribunal accepted my evidence and were satisfied that I had no reason to believe the account was operated otherwise than in an orthodox fashion.  I am also pleased that the Tribunal said in their report that it is “noteworthy” that at my insistence amendments have since been made to the governing of the Leaders Allowance Accounts. 

The important point to emphasise is that the issues, which arose in respect of that account, arose more than 15 years ago.  Even before the introduction of statutory controls in 2001, the operation of the account within Fianna Fáil was reformed in 1992 by my colleague Albert Reynolds and was further reformed in 1994 when I became party leader.  For example, I arranged for the party’s auditors to present the audited accounts to the party’s National Trustees, its National Treasurers and senior party officials.  This further increased the transparency of the account.

In Government, Fianna Fáil has changed the legislation governing such accounts.  Under the old system, a party leader had a large amount of discretion as to how the account was to be used, and this gave rise to an ambiguity about what was permissible. 

The 2001 amendment set out with greater clarity the purposes for which the leader’s parliamentary allowance are to be applied. The categories of expenditure which are to be included in the meaning of ‘expenses arising from parliamentary activities’ have now been clearly defined.

In addition, the new legislation requires a parliamentary leader to prepare a statement of any expenditure from the allowance.  It requires that such a statement be audited by a public auditor.  This audited report is then required to be furnished to the Standards Commission.  

The Standards Commission:

– considers the statement and the auditor’s report;

– can consult with the Parliamentary leader;

– furnishes a report in writing on the statement and the auditor’s report       to the Minister for Finance; and

– causes a copy of that report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. 

Since the reforms by the Fianna Fáil / PD Government in 2001, the system is far more robust.  We did not wait for the Moriarty Tribunal to conclude; we went ahead and changed the system.  There are now a large number of restrictions and guidelines as to how this money can be used.  We will closely study the Report of the Tribunal to establish whether there are any further improvements that might now need to be made.

On the issue of the pre-signed cheques, it is important to recognise that this was not an uncommon feature of life in past decades.  It was done for convenience and to save time.  There was no reason for me to believe that any unusual use was being made of any of these cheques, and indeed the vast majority of the cheques drawn on the Fianna Fáil Leader’s Account were put to proper use. A very small number were used otherwise.  Because of the reforms introduced by me, first within the Fianna Fáil system and later by legislation, this practice – which ended 15 years ago – cannot be repeated.

We have learned much from the work of this Tribunal, from its predecessor the McCracken Tribunal and from other Tribunals and Inquiries.  We have developed a greater awareness and understanding of the need for explicit measures to underpin the high standards of governance that the public deserve and expect.  As I already noted, many important legislative and other initiatives have been taken to address this. 

In addition to the measures I have already referenced, actions have been taken in relation to:

– individual issues of tax evasion;       

– a major reorganisation of structures in the Revenue Commissioners, including the strengthening of anti-evasion operations through the creation of a dedicated Investigations and Prosecutions Division to manage and advance all Revenue prosecutions in cases of tax and duty evasion;

– conferring of substantial additional statutory powers on the Revenue Commissioners;

– development of Codes of Practice and other procedures to guard against conflicts of interest;

– strengthening of the financial regulatory and supervisory framework.  The establishment of the Financial Regulator as a Single Financial Regulatory Authority with an explicit mandate for consumers has placed the Irish regulatory system at the forefront of best international practice;

– sharing of information by State agencies.  Legislation now allows the Financial Regulator to report suspicions of money laundering (which includes the proceeds of tax evasion) directly to the Gardaí and the Revenue Commissioners.  The Regulator is also obliged to report any suspected criminal offences to the appropriate enforcement authority, for example, the Director of Corporate Enforcement;

– the creation of independent regulatory authorities for the enforcement of company law and for the supervision of the accountancy and auditing profession.  In this regard, also we are undertaking an ambitious programme of reform of the existing Companies Acts, led by the Company Law Review Group, in order to keep our Companies legislation up to date and appropriate for the needs of our economy; and

– strengthening the prevention of corruption legislation, including a presumption of corruption for non-disclosure of a significant political donation in particular circumstances.

We will continue to apply the lessons learned from the work of the Moriarty Tribunal and other inquiries. 

However, the overarching lesson is that the achievement of high standards cannot be taken for granted.  They must be promoted, through legislation, through changes in our political culture and, above all, through constant vigilance of which the independent Standards Commission is the ultimate guarantor.

ENDS

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President Donald J Trump Actions.

In less than ONE week, President Trump has: 
• Signed an executive order initiating the Obamacare repeal process 

• Rejected the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to save American jobs 

• Approved the Keystone Pipeline 

• Restored American steel 

• Pledged “massive” tax cuts 

• Instituted federal hiring freezes to reduce government’s bloated bureaucracy 

#Wow – and he’s just getting started… 

Wednesday 25th January 2027.

Corrupt Risks to Credit Unions in Ireland.

There are very serious risks for the wider credit union movement in Ireland.  

Even the biggest, strongest and safest credit unions – positions earned and achieved from decades of hard work, prudent management and massive support from credit union wide members, will only be insulated from the risks for longer than most others.
It is a dastardly apparent corrupted situation that even the strongest credit unions can realistically expect to prosper in the light of substantial and in many cases, UNWARRANTED obstacles being placed in their way by legislators and regulators.  
Changes introduced in 2011 relate to how a credit union is governed. Most credit unions have embraced these changes without reservation as being essential to maintaining a safe and secure movement.  
In a more critically untoward way however, there have also been changes IMPOSED which leave credit unions at a DISTINCT DISADVANTAGE to other regulated lenders. Excessive restrictions enforced through regulation is like a #cancer – #KILLING #CreditUnions and is making it IMPOSSIBLE for even the biggest and strongest credit unions to function in a commercial manner.  
These unnecessary, questionable untoward restrictions are putting credit unions at a serious competitive disadvantage to #BANKS by forcibly making it harder for credit unions to take in and retain #DEPOSITS and preventing them from meeting credit union members’ demand for the type of loans they require, which many credit unions clearly have the capacity and ability to provide.  
The weaker credit unions will suffer the consequences first, but eventually the strongest will also suffer. This means that even the biggest and strongest credit unions will eventually have to succumb to the Banks. Bear in mind these actions are being taken by the people you have elected as politicians to represent you.  
All members of credit unions need to take serious urgent action to safeguard their future.
During 2016 two striking examples of how excessive, unjustified unfair regulation hindered the business of some bigger credit unions. This regulation effects growth potential and therefore credit union services for members in the coming years.
1. Firstly, some of the bigger credit unions are now able to offer #mortgages to their members. The members responses to the initiative was overwhelmingly positive. However it rapidly became apparent that, with the level of demand from the members, the credit union would require significantly more latitude from the #Regulator to meet the demand. It can be confirmed that application to the #Regulator to increase the mortgage lending to meet the demand from credit union members has gone unanswered. Are we surprised? The regulations as they stand means that credit unions can only lend out 15% of their total loan book for loans of greater than 10 years. This equates to just 5% of what some of the bigger credit unions have in shares. It is INCREDIBLE that these credit unions can in theory lend 95% of their shares in unsecured lending and only 5% secured on the members homes. This is also clearly counterintuitive when considered in the context of the HIGH DEMAND such credit unions have from their members, as well as the worsening housing crisis for credit union members. Discussions with the Central Bank are ongoing, with a view to having the unfair restrictions adjusted.
2. Secondly, almost all credit unions in Ireland are now restricted to a ceiling of €100,000 in deposits per member. This has been brought about to bring the limits in credit unions in line with the guarantees that apply. ALTHOUGH THE SAME GUARANTEES APPLY TO ALL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, NO SUCH LIMITS OR RESTRICTIONS APPLY TO #BANKS. This is blatantly, indiscriminately, unfairly putting credit unions at a serious disadvantage, illegally, unjustly damaging the reputation of credit unions and effectively coercing and forcing credit union members to place their funds elsewhere.
3. So in essence, credit unions are not permitted to meet the demand for mortgage loans for their members. At the same time, credit unions are being restricted in the level of new funds they are permitted to accept from members.
4. These restrictions have been gradually introduced since 2011 at a time when the state held and still holds a declared interest in ensuring that Irish #Banks remain viable and profitable – YOU CAN DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS FROM THIS. Unfortunately however, ONE THING IS VERY CLEAR, the future for Credit Unions in Ireland has never been more uncertain. The Director’s and leadership in credit unions are very deeply concerned about this and are engaging with various stakeholders in order to try and influence a positive future for credit unions.
The Irish central bank has nothing to be proud of and cannot be trusted. It is a pity they did not take required actions against the main banks when they should have.
People need to wake up and take strong action to protect their credit unions against the major untoward actions being taken against credit unions in favour of banks.
Anyone that can should collect and collate intelligence of all forms – digital, voice and paper based on all interactions between the Banks and any representative of governance in Ireland, legal firms, accountants and judiciary and be prepared to furnish same to any organisation that can take the necessary steps to bring obviously corrupted collusion between the Banks and the powers that be to justice.  

  • Obvious nefariousness must never be allowed to succeed to the benefit of banks and their greedy shareholders.

Missing Person – Deirdre Jacob Newbridge Co Kildare.

Deirdre Jacob has been missing for the past 18 years from her home in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. 
In 1998 Deirdre who was attending Teacher Training College in the U.K. was home on summer holidays. 
On 28th July she left her home to walk a 25 minute journey to Newbridge, she visited her grandmother, A.I.B., and the Post Office. At around 2:30 p.m. she left Newbridge to walk home. Deirdre was sighted a number of times on her journey home, the last sighting was at the gateway to her home, just after 3:00 p.m. 
No further trace was found despite a long and exhaustive search by Gardaí, supported by many people in the surrounding area. 
Gardaí believe that there is someone yet to come forward with vital information. 
The Lions Club are now launching a new poster campaign to include a larger catchment area. 
We seek your assistance at this time to coincide with National Missing Persons Remembrance day on 07.12.16. 
All we ask is to distribute posters in high profile shops, public areas etc.  
Attached is a copy of an example of the poster.  Please print off on A4 size paper and display.

Why Irish Water and the water charges exist in the first place?

Let’s be honest here. Irish Water isn’t going away nor the water charges until people truly understand why Irish Water and the water charges exist in the first place. You are asking yourself why they continue to push for charges when the people have, many times, voiced their outright opposition to both IW and the charges. So why are they committing political suicide to push through the most unpopular issue in decades? 

They can’t blame the EU for forcing these charges considering Slovenia’s plan to ensure their water is a public good so why are they so adamant? Why are they wasting yet another quarter of a million euros setting up a committee to deliver a report that will eventually recommend water charges? 
To find the answer, you have to go back to 2008 and the economic collapse caused by the banks and financial institutions. The Government, at the time, rushed to bail out these banks and financial institutions in order to preserve the status quo, to preserve the “Golden Circle” that ran this country for decades.

In order to get the funding to bail out these banks and by extension, the developers that were caught up in the collapse, they had to get a bailout from the Troika because our bonds had skyrocketed due to bailing out failing banks and putting the finances of the country in felonious jeopardy causing our borrowings to also skyrocket to the point that our only avenue for cash was the Troika. The Troika consisted of three entities: The European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

As part of the deal to bail out the State, a Memorandum of Understanding had to be agreed to and signed by the then Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan and the Central Bank Governor, Patrick Honohan. They signed this deal in 2010. Remember that date because it is important.
http://www.finance.gov.ie/sites/default/files/euimfrevised.pdf

This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was essentially a promise to NeoLiberalise the whole of Irish Society through the privatisation of public services right across the board by execution of the “National Recovery Plan” as outlined in the MoU. The main aim was to turn our society from people-centric society into a market-centric society. 

That is the foundation by which the NeoLiberal economic agenda operates.

As part of this agreement, our public services were to be repackaged and sold off piece by piece by way of Fine Gael’s “NewERA” plan. From Gas, Electricity to water and other essential public entities, all of them had to become market based utilities so that eventually they could be carved up and sold off. Bord Gais being the most recent casualty of this NewERA plan.

https://www.publicjobs.ie/publicjobs/publication/document/14108505_Ervia_Information_Booklet.pdf

Water was also part of this deal. This is why the Government created Irish Water and put control of that utility under the same parent company responsible for the sale of Bord Gais Energy to Centrica, Eriva (The National Treasury Management Agency) was created on the back of NewERA to repackage our assets into saleable assets and to created markets for gas, electricity and water. Markets that can then be opened up to competition as per EU market rules.

Why was this measure taken? Because under the MoU, Fianna Fail promised to set up Irish Water with a view to start charging for water and Fine Gael took it to the next level by putting in place a market creating entity to ensure that the promise to set up a fully commercial space for water would be realised. The Troika expect Irish Water to turn our water into a commercial concern, as per the Price Waterhouse Cooper’s report, that envisioned an opening of the market to competition in the future, just like what was done to our Electricity and Gas in the past. 

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/Environment/Water/FileDownLoad%2C29193%2Cen.pdf 

One would be naive if one didn’t get the impression from all of this that the two main parties responsible for introducing and then implementing Irish Water were both party to the process and knew full well where this was leading! 

What’s even more shocking is that Fine Gael already envisioned Irish Water in 2009, a YEAR BEFORE the Memorandum was agreed to and they even chose the NAME of the utility! 
http://michaelpidgeon.com/manifestos/docs/fg/Fine%20Gael%20LE%202009.pdf 
Fine Gael’s NewERA Plan 2009.
http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/attachment.php?attachmentid=97488&d=1259413305 
After all, how hypocritical it would be for either of them to disavow Irish Water after being responsible for its introduction in the first place? 

Would YOU TRUST them to tell you the truth after all they have done so far or are you willing to accept that they can’t blame the EU for any of this and that Irish Water was an Irish invention thought up by opportunist politicians desperate to protect the “Golden Circle” #1percent and to push for commercialisation of yet another of our resources? 

So the important factor you need to absorb is that Irish Water is a means to an end and not the end in itself. It was set up to create a market for water so that competition could be introduced. That is the ultimate plan. Not conservation nor modest charges or any other hair-brained suggestion. It is all about #MONEY.

They won’t let Irish Water go until you begin to understand why Irish Water exists in the first place. 

You must now be prepared, as the sovereign majority that you are prepared to stand up to the #GoldenCircle, the #1percent and to back that up you will take all necessary measures to STOP #IrishWater

Banking Inquiry in Ireland – As Controversial and Corrupted as that which it Inquires Into; Not to mention the Exorbidant Costs Involved – And for What Good?

Its absolutely amazing how outwardly arrogant and damningly treasonably determined the Irish Government are towards the sovereign people of Ireland in proceeding with a Banking Inquiry.  An extreme ‘money for the boys‘ costly inquiry that cannot determine anything.  

That Ireland can only muster a Banking Inquiry to determine who destroyed our sovereign nation is a corrupt fraud in breach of the Irish Constitution and highly detrimental to the sovereign people of the nation.

Everyone knows the Banking Inquiry is a ‘sham personified‘ and a complete waste of taxpayers money that is designed only to be another cash-cow for certain individuals.  Estimated, without proper cost-benefit analysis, to cost €5 million – rest assured it will end up with at least another zero or two added by the time it concludes, having achieved nothing.   It is barefaced hypocrisy by dysfunctional corrupted crooks who are not the pillars of Irish society.

Politician’s are copy-catting the Judiciary and Legal Profession who have totally destroyed the country with their corrupted laws and practises, fees and costs.

In public hands now are some pretty damning documents in, hundreds in fact.  They are supposed to be secret, which grateful confirms at least some very senior civil servants are very unhappy with the corruption involved.  They will never learn in Irish political circles that stamping a document “Secret” or ” Confidential” or “Highly Confidential” is construed as LEAK!

These documents are the holy grail of new and adopted terminology, “constructive ambiguity” or the old reliable “plausible deniability” or “covert private sector takeover” or “big bang scenario’s” or “slow burn” or “fait-accompli critical“,  and damingly my favourite ” Pseudo-Legal People ” – the list goes on and on…..

What will happen with these documents is undeterminable presently – they should be released to the Irish public, the people footing the bill wither their ever decreasing austerely depleted earnings.

What is irrefutable though, is the absolute fact that they make a mockery of the official line and the current Oireachtas Banking Inquiry, they make Liars of most of the great and the good Banker’s and their mealy mouthed false apologies while they simply update their CV’s in public.

They also make Liars out of many current and previously serving Politicians, but then they generally go hand in hand with the Bankers so, no surprise there.

Meanwhile the general public simply roll their eyes resigned to the fact that they can do nothing, as a country we are completely subservient to the financial system and that is completely in the hands of private, for profit individuals.

A lot of people believe the official narrative that we lost our Sovereignty as a result of the financial crisis but we may yet regain that Sovereignty.

We lost our economic sovereignty many decades ago when we passed the ability and right of government to print and control the supply of money in Ireland to the private Banks, without Economic Sovereignty there is no Sovereignty at all!

For the military and security authorities of the state to continue to accept such treasonable governance is doubly catastrophic.  Looks like the sovereign have an honest lawful necessity to form an alternative security force under the constitution to justifiably counter the corruption and the illegal destructive measures being fraudulently perpetrated against them. 

The European Central Bank has confirmed that during the years 2009-2013 due to the financial crisis, Irish people paid/lost €18,000 per person. 

In the same period each German citizen gained €33,000 – almost double the amount gained as we Irish paid/lost.  Why is Ireland shouldering 42% of Europe’s banking debt?  

The Irish government were totally to blame – Ireland is only a pimple of a country with a small population, which made it very manageable for any sort of a decent business owner (government) to properly manage.

Brian Cowan’s evidence to the Banking Inquiry was a complete farce and waste of time and money.

He has simply spoken about how his previous employ as Taoiseach and as Minister for Finance should have been conducted and not on how he actually performed his work in these positions!  Far too many “cannot remember” responses, when it didn’t suit.

Just consider all of the professionally construed, constructed questions that were asked Biffo by the Inquiry and try measuring them with the totally inept, dodging, obviously untruthful responses given?

Watching the inquiry live, clearly former Taoiseach Biffo was not fit for purpose, the salary he was paid and the pension he is now in receipt of.  

It is hard to credit that this man was actually the Irish Minister for Finance, not to mention Taoiseach (Prime Minister).

Biffo quite obviously had a major health issue that untreated, simply rendered him incapable of being able to do his job properly as Taoiseach but, power was much more important.  He should not have been afforded the possibility to hold office because of it – because his medical condition rendered him incapable.

In those circumstances it is quite obvious he is not to blame for everything that went wrong during his watch. I’m sure everyone will agree! LOL!  It’s all a big joke to him while we the people must gravely suffer the consequences of his and others’ treasonous actions as Taoiseach, which has destroyed many lives, health and wellbeing and has treasonable wrecked  the nation and its institutions.  

He and others must now pay the price and that sentence can only be aligned to a penalty for treason.

Eurostat, the EU Commission’s data agency, has calculated the cost of the banking crisis in each EU country. The following focuses on the cost to general government budgets.  Ireland has really taken one for Team EU.

  
Yes, there’s wee Ireland up at the top, just edging out Germany for the dubious title of spending the most on the banking crisis.   €41 billion according to the Eurostat accounting data (this doesn’t count the billions ploughed into the covered banks from our National Pension Reserve Fund as this was not counted as a ‘cost’ to the general Government budget).

Of course, this doesn’t give the best picture. What happens when we look at the cost as a percentage of GDP?

  
Ireland may not win football’s European Championship but when it comes to banking debt we are Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United all rolled into one with Real Madrid for a bench. Germany may have run Ireland close in the nominal amount of banking debt but when it comes to a proportion of GDP, it is just pennies behind their sofa cushions.  For Ireland, it’s the entire house per occupant.

Here’s another little statistic to chew on. The European banking crisis is just that – a European crisis.  But as we know, this has not been addressed at European level.  Rather, the cost has been delegated to individual countries regardless of their size or ability to pay.  For instance:

* Ireland makes up 0.9 percent of the EU population

* The Irish economy makes up 1.2 percent of EU GDP

Boy are we small!  So how much of the entire European banking debt have we paid?

* The Irish people have paid 42 percent of the total cost of the European banking crisis

We may be minnows when it comes to population and economic size, but when it comes to banking debt we are the whales in the pond.

One more breakdown. How much have countries paid per capita?

  
The European banking crisis to date has cost every individual in Ireland nearly €9,000 each. The average throughout the EU is €192 per capita.    What can one say after that?

The really big problem is we are still paying nearly €9,000 each while the remainder of the EU pays only a fraction of that.  There is no deal for Ireland, just a re-arranging of euro notes – a lot of euro notes – on the decks of a sunken ship.
This is how badly government got it wrong!  Measure such seriousness with the so called Banking Inquiry and you can only conclude that the same type of corrupted dysfunctional governance is ongoing.

Somewhat consoling are rumours that a secretive expert investigative non governmental organisation is covertly investigating and has already collated mountains of pertinent evidence that will ultimately result in a unique solid comprehensive challenge incapable of defence by banking, dysfunctional corruptd institutions, government, legal profession, judiciary and other organs of state;  And, that because of it a coup d’état will ensue in Ireland at some point that will be backed up by the security services.  Illegal governance is like a sieve and the damping evidence is streaming through.

The treason must be put down at any cost because our country has been destroyed.  The sovereign people must do whatever it takes to regain proper governance control and restore our nation for its children.

Arthur O Hara.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Uncomfortable Truth about Irish Water 

There are many things about water charges that Fine Gael/Labour would prefer you didn’t know. At the top of the list is this: 

Not one penny of the money they’re demanding you pay will be used to run, or to upgrade, the water system.

In fact, even if everyone paid their water bill, every penny of the money would be spent on the admin involved in issuing us with bills.

As it stands, with the number of people currently paying their bills, the introduction of domestic water charges will result in there being about a €25m less available to run the water system than if the charges had not been introduced at all.

Why? Because it costs a lot to collect the money. And it costs a lot to pay for the so-called ‘water conservation grants’ that arrived in people’s accounts this week – a crass pre-election stunt worthy of Fianna Fáil at its worst. And it turns out that the money raised from the water charge is less than these two costs.

Think about that – the people are being asked to pay €271m this year in water charges. That’s €160 or €260 per household, depending on whether one or to adults live in the house, and that’s if every single person actually pays.

At a time when children are going hungry, when people can’t make the rent, when pensioners can’t afford to turn the heat on, when parents are scraping together to send their kids back to school, that €260 matters a great deal.

Fine Gael/Labour claim that the money’s needed to keep the water flowing but that isn’t true. The way they have set this thing up, the money isn’t being used to fund the water system – it is being used to fund the administration of billing for water.

Fine Gael is clearly worried about people cottoning on to all of this. At its think-in recently, backbenchers were instructed to attack the Social Democrats’ position on water charges as being dishonest – which gives them full marks for irony at least. In fact the Social Democrats’ positon isn’t dishonest – the numbers have been verified independently by several very able economists and they tell a very clear story.

The numbers are pretty simple; if everyone paid the water charge (and that is a pretty big if), then €271m would be raised. But all those €100m grants we’ve been receiving cost the State a whopping €166m. On top of that, simply administering the grant costs another €6m.

Water meters are costing at least €44m a year for thr next 15 years. The Government says we need to have meters to improve conservation and detect leaks. It’s true that if you put meters in every house you will find the leaks. But if you talk to engineers, you’ll find that this isn’t actually how they do it. They put in area meters and follow the leaks. It’s called targeted detection and it can be done at a fraction of the cost of putting meters into every house. The actual purpose of the meters is to bill you.

Finally there’s the cost of maintaining the meters and reading them, chasing you up, sending debt collectors your way and so on. In the industry, this is called the ‘cost to serve’, there are no data available for what Irish Water’s cost is. but if you assume, generously, that it’s at the average level for water companies in the UK, it’s about €54m. Add it all up and you get a total cost associated with the water charge of €270m. So even if the full €271m was collected, there’d just be €1m left to spend on the water system.

But only half of households have paid the charge. Let’s be generous again and assume that only half the water conservation grants have been paid out. If that is the case,  there is actually €25m less available this year to upgrade the water system than if there weren’t any water charges at all. You can understand why Fine Gael/Labour would prefer if you didn’t know this.

Now let’s be clear: We absolutely do need to upgrade the water system and it seems to be happening. Spare capacity in the Dublin region has jumped, boil-water notices are being cancelled and waste-water treatment plants are being fast-tracked. Irish Water may be the equivalent of a public relations cluster bomb but it does appear to be making significant and much-needed progress on the engineering front and should be recognised for that. The blame for the Irish Water fiasco doesn’t fall to Irish Water – it falls to Fine Gael/ Labour. Whatever way you cut it, additional money is needed to upgrade the system: €200m for the first few years is proposed, due to rise to €350m from 2017. So if water charges aren’t raising the money, where do we get it, without raising taxation?

The answer is in improving the service. I’m not against some of the concept of Irish Water. The central entity is a smart idea. Fianna Fáil has been talking about going back to the local authority model but that is madness. Pooling the inefficient workings of 40 utility operations into one is vital – it creates the opportunity to carry out rigourous reform, which has been absent from the public sector for so long. It creates opportunities to create improvements and savings in technology, procurements, centralising functions and perhaps in voluntary redundancies.

But we need to stop charging people to cover the cost of charging them. It’s dumb and insulting. Instead we maintain current Exchequer support for water. We reduce the operating cost base of Irish Water and we reinvest the savings. The €200m a year needed for the next few years requires a cost reduction of just 16%. Scottish Water reduced its cost base by 40% in the first five years of its existence. Moving the €350m a year investment would an additional 13% reduction in costs. Even if the entire amount couldn’t be found, it would be far more efficient to make up the difference through central taxation rather than water charges. The cost of the meters and billing for the first 10 years will be at least €1bn – that would cover the entire additional investment requirements for the water system for five years.

Fine Gael/Labour should hold their hands up and accept this fiasco for what it is. But they won’t. Instead, they’ll put their own reputations ahead of the public good and continue to insist that people pay out hard-earned and badly-needed money for no reason. Then, in a perfect storm of authoritarianism and incompetence, they’ll futher invade people’s privacy by using new legislation to take people’s money at source.

Here’s what the Social Democrats are proposing. Water charges should be abolished, as should the conservation grant. The meter rollout should be stopped. A full and open financial review of Irish Water should be conducted to understand what cost savings can be achieved each year and how they can be reinvested in the water system. Irish Water should be reconstituted as a public body, rather than as a commercial semi-state, to ensure it can never be privatised. And the people running and improving our water system should be allowed to get on with the job – which is the only bit of good news in this entire Government-induced, nonsense.

September 2015.