17 September 2009 Edition
Sinn Féin TD halts Dáil in NAMA row
Sinn Féin’s Finance spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD was kicked out of the Dáil on Wednesday as he voiced Sinn Féin’s opposition to the governments proposed National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) legislation. Morgan challenged An Taoiseach Brian Cowen to apologise to the Irish people for lying about the causes of the current economic crisis and for claiming that he was wasn’t warned about the dangers of Ireland’s property bubble. Morgan also said that the Taoiseach was also lying when he claimed NAMA was the only option for addressing the banking crisis.
Dáil proceedings were suspended twice as Morgan repeatedly challenged the Taoiseach over the government’s handling of the economy and NAMA.
Speaking to An Phoblacht after his ejection from the Dáil the Sinn Féin TD said “We are elected to represent the views of the people on the ground. People are rightly angry. That anger needs to be made known to the Taoiseach and the government as a whole. People are demanding that the Taoiseach be honest about the extent to which he was aware when he was Minister for Finance about the impending economic crisis. People who are facing having their houses repossessed, whose businesses are being forced to shut down and those are finding themselves thrown on to the dole queue feel betrayed by this government.
The Government has no mandate to implement NAMA. Sinn Féin is committed to do everything in our power to stop this bailout of bankers and developers coming into law. This is exactly what we will do. There is an alternative – that is the nationalisation of the banks and the establishment of a state bank.”
Speaking earlier on Wednesday ahead of the return of the Dáil Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD had warned that the party would do all in its power to stop the passage of the NAMA legislation through the Dáil.
Ó Caoláin said the Fianna Fáil and the Green Party could not be allowed to take €15,000 off every man woman and child in the country with a simple majority vote in the Dáil.
Speaking to reporters at Leinster House Ó Caoláin said:
“TDs returning to the Dáil this week are faced with a dilemma of unprecedented proportions in Irish history. After years of economic mismanagement and a culture of corruption which has caused record levels of unemployment and economic chaos this current Fianna Fáil-led Government is attempting to legalise corruption with its NAMA legislation. This cannot be allowed to happen.
DISRUPTING THE DÁIL
“I and my party colleagues will do all in our power to prevent this legislation from passing through the Oireachtas. We will use every opportunity available to us to stop NAMA. This includes the possibility of disrupting Dáil business if necessary.
He added: “NAMA proposes to cost every man woman and child in the country somewhere in the region of €15,000. It would be simply wrong and absolutely unfair for Fianna Fáil and the Green Party to use their slender Dáil majority to take this type of money off people without their consent. It should go to a referendum and the people should decide the best way forward.
“Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s claim yesterday that NAMA was they only way forward was a disingenuous attempt to scare the public into supporting NAMA and to get his back benchers in line ahead of the Dáil debate. The reality is that there is an alternative that will provide better value for taxpayers’ money.
“Sinn Féin is firmly of the view that nationalising the banks is the fairest way forward with the best possible return to taxpayers as the State will then own the banks. This is also the best way forward for the economy as we could then ensure that the banks begin lending again and oiling the cogs of the rusting economy.”
CALL FOR REFERNDUM
In the lead-up to the Dáil’s resumption this week an appeal was made by Sinn Féin to all Oireachtas members to back a petition to President Mary McAleese for a referendum on the ‘bad bank’ National Asset Management Agency legislation if it is passed by the Dáil.
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Arthur Morgan launched a Draft Petition to the President under Article 27 of the Constitution which provides that the President may refuse to sign a Bill if it “contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained”.
The immediate and long-term implications of the NAMA legislation is of such national importance, Sinn Féin insists.
The Petitions require the signatures of a majority of senators and a third of TDs and Sinn Féin has appealed to all Oireachtas members to sign in the event of the legislation being passed.
Deputy Morgan said:
“The consequences of NAMA are so serious for the Irish people today and for future generations that the legislation should be referred to the vote of the people.
“Article 27 of the Constitution provides the mechanism for such a referendum. This has never been done before but if ever there was a Bill that contains proposals of such national importance that the will of the people should be sought then NAMA is it.
“The Government can facilitate a referendum now by signalling that if the NAMA legislation is passed then its TDs and senators will support the Petition under Article 27. If the Government refuses to do so then a majority of the Seanad and a third of the Dáil can ensure that the Petition goes to the President. There is a special onus, therefore, on senators, including those appointed by the Taoiseach such as Dan Boyle and Deirdre de Burca of the Green Party, to put the people first.
“As we state in our draft of the Petition, NAMA would place an intolerable burden on state finances for the benefit of private property speculators, developers and corrupt bankers. It would penalise our citizens now and in the future, entailing cuts in vital public services and higher taxes and levies which will fall most heavily on the weaker sections of the community.
“Let the people decide.”
• IN UNION: SIPTU and TEEU members protest outside Leinster House on Wednesday against NAMA