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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 7 Feb 2013

Vol. 791 No. 3

Promissory Notes: Statements

I wish to make an important announcement for the information of the House. The Government has met in the past hour to consider a proposal from the Minister for Finance to once and for all remove the promissory notes relating to the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. This proposal follows the conclusion of discussions between the European Central Bank and the Irish Government.

When Fine Gael and Labour formed a new Government in 2011, we promised to renegotiate the bailout programme inherited from the previous Government to secure a fairer and more affordable solution to our banking and sovereign debt crises. In particular, we committed to replacing short-term, emergency Central Bank lending secured against the promissory notes used by the previous Government to bail out the worst Irish banks with longer term, more affordable financing that reduces the burden on Irish taxpayers and restores confidence among other potential investors in Ireland.

The promissory notes, in this Government’s view, represent a highly onerous and unfair legacy of the banking crisis. Under this promissory note arrangement put in place by the previous Government, Irish taxpayers were due to pay €3.1 billion next March and every March until 2023 and declining payments until 2031 to cover the massive private losses of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide. Including interest costs, the lifetime cost of the promissory notes would have been almost €48 billion. I am pleased to announce today that Ireland has reached a conclusion to its discussions with the European Central Bank that delivers on our commitment to put in place a fairer and more sustainable arrangement. This is the outcome.

There is the liquidation of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, IBRC, as legislated for by the Oireachtas this morning. The remnants of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide – stains on our international reputations and dents to our national pride – have now been removed from the financial and political landscape. Their closure bookends a tragic chapter in our country’s history.

The annual promissory notes payments are gone. The liquidation this morning caused the Central Bank to assume full ownership of the €25 billion in promissory notes and other collateral held as security for the funds provided by the Central Bank to the IBRC. Under the agreement reached today with the European Central Bank, the promissory notes are being exchanged for long-term Irish Government bonds with maturities of up to 40 years. The first principal payment will not now be made until 2038 and the last payment will be made in 2053. The average maturity of the Government bonds will be over 34 years, as opposed to the seven to eight year average maturity on the promissory notes. In effect, we have replaced a short-term, high-interest rate overdraft that had to be paid down quickly through more expensive borrowings, with long-term, cheap, interest-only loans.

In addition, by agreement with the ECB, the liquidation of IBRC has caused the Central Bank to take ownership of the €3.4 billion bond used to settle the promissory note last March. As a result, there will be a €20 billion reduction in the NTMA’s market borrowing requirements in the next decade as we seek to restore the economy to full employment, and a very large reduction in the debt servicing costs of the State over the next generation. The average interest rate on the new bonds will begin at just over 3%, compared with an interest rate of well over 8% on the promissory notes. This will result in a reduction in the State’s general government deficit of approximately €1 billion per annum over the coming years, which will bring us €1 billion closer to attaining our 3% deficit target by 2015. This means that the expenditure reductions and tax increases will be of the order of €1 billion less to meet the 3% deficit target. This plan will lead to a substantial improvement in the State’s debt position over time.

Today’s outcome is an historic step on the road to economic recovery. It secures the future financial position of the State by reducing the burden on Irish taxpayers arising from the bailout of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide. Step by step, this Government is undoing the disastrous banking policies that brought this State to the brink of national bankruptcy.


Hear, hear.

The agreement has reduced Ireland’s vulnerability from the huge debts taken on by Irish taxpayers as a result of the cost of rescuing failed private banks. Irish citizens can look forward once again with positive expectations. The legacy banking debt hoisted on the Irish taxpayer is a heavy burden and the promissory notes in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide served as a millstone around the neck of the Irish taxpayer. It was referred to often in this House and this burden served to erode confidence and limit the economy’s ability to grow.

The new plan will likely materially improve perceptions of our debt sustainability in the eyes of potential investors in Ireland, leading to lower interest rates and faster growth than would otherwise have been the case. A successful Irish exit from the bailout by the end of this year would prove that a combination of intensive national reform efforts and European solidarity can deliver results.

Let there be no doubt, this is no silver bullet to end all our economic problems. After the catastrophic economic management of the past decade, there is still a long way to travel in our country’s journey back to prosperity and full employment. The damage done by these financial institutions will take many years to rectify. Even as the lower interest rates resulting with this agreement reduce Ireland’s deficit, a very large and unsustainable gap between Government revenues and spending remains to be fixed; that gap is unrelated to our banking crisis. Only we in Ireland can fix this problem by reforming the way our State and country works.

We continue to negotiate to improve other core elements of the onerous bailout deal inherited from the previous Government. Today, we have secured a vastly better deal on the cost of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide. Tomorrow we continue our efforts to seek European assistance to recover as much taxpayers’ money as possible from the other financial institutions bailed out by the State.

That is an important consideration that should not be lost on people.

Eurozone leaders, including Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, have publicly recognised the unique circumstances behind Ireland’s sovereign debt crisis and mandated the Eurogroup to address these issues. What today shows is that the more Ireland is prepared to help itself, the more others will assist us along the difficult path we still have to travel. It is a step forward in accelerating our path back to economic recovery and renewed job creation. It can give us confidence that our goals are achievable and our hopes realisable.

It is important to recognise the independent efforts of the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, his staff and officials from the European Central Bank in securing this agreement. I am confident it will contribute hugely to the ongoing rebuilding of trust between Irish and European authorities in the management of the banking crisis and other challenges.

Today’s result has been brought about by a strong and determined collective effort by the entire Government. We made perfectly clear 18 months ago that this outcome was one of our principal economic objectives. I thank the Tánaiste and all Ministers for their contribution to it. Most of all, I publicly thank the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, and his officials for leading these negotiations to a successful conclusion. The general public may not be aware that the staff of the Department of Finance worked through the night on many occasions in the past 18 months. Their dedicated service to the State in their tireless, persistent and patient work over that period should serve as an inspiration to all public servants.


Hear, hear.

Next week, a formal motion will be put to the House for debate and a vote, if Members so wish. I commend this agreement to the House.

This is a good day for our State, economy and people. This is more than just a financial watershed; it is an opportunity for our country and economy to take a decisive step forward into the future our people deserve. I pay warm tribute to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, for the enormous work he has done to bring us to this point.


Hear, hear.

Together with a small team of officials, he has given himself fully to the task and this result is a tremendous tribute to his skill and determination. Those involved in "Project Red", as it became known, are aware of what it took to get this done. I thank them on behalf of the Government and people of Ireland. I also thank the officials in the Departments of the Taoiseach and Public Expenditure and Reform who worked directly with the troika on this and other issues. I mention, in particular, the officials in my Department, our ambassadors and diplomats in the eurozone missions and beyond, who have put this issue at the forefront of their agenda for months. That we have reached this point is the result of the hard slog by them, every Minister of the Government and, in particular, the Taoiseach who seized every possible opportunity to make Ireland's case. This is a good day for Irish diplomacy.

I have been involved in negotiations in one form or another for all of my adult life but I have never forgotten the lesson I learned in my first days as a young trade union official, namely, that one should never organise an ice cream strike in the middle of winter. In other words, when one is in negotiation, one should not play one's hand until it is strong. When this Government came into office our hand was not strong. While many inside and outside this House demanded that we act when our hand was weak, the Government took a different approach. We knew and understood that we first had to repair Ireland's reputation abroad. We worked hard to do this, explaining what had happened to our country and what the Government would do to put it right. We made clear that while we were willing to deal with our own problems, we were carrying an unacceptable share of other people's mistakes. Over time and with patience and hard work, this message has got through and it is on that basis that we are able to make this announcement today.

It has been a long and difficult slog to get to this point but it has been worth it. This package of measures will make a marked difference to Ireland's debt sustainability, our prospects of regaining our economic sovereignty and the process of economic recovery. We will reduce our borrowing requirement by €20 billion over the next ten years. We will reduce our deficit by an annual figure of €1 billion from 2014 onwards. We are tearing up the promissory note and we have wiped Anglo Irish Bank off the map. We are converting the promissory note into long-term bonds which have an average maturity of approximately 34 years. We are bringing far greater certainty to the financial landscape and righting a wrong that was done to the Irish people more than four years ago.

This deal is a tribute, in the first place, to the endurance and patience of Irish people who have understood that difficult decisions and sacrifices had to be made to secure economic recovery. This agreement lifts a considerable burden from their shoulders.

No, it does not.

However, this deal is also a testimony to the Deputies in this House who have had the courage to support the Government in the difficult work we have had to do. It is the accomplishment of those who have kept faith and put their country first, understood the bigger picture and put the long-term well-being of the Irish people ahead of short-term political advantage. I thank them today for what they have done.

Today's announcement is not an end in itself but another major step on our way back. As the Taoiseach stated, we have further work to do on the separation of bank and sovereign debt and we will do that work from today onwards. This is an important step forward, which shows we are succeeding, making progress and will succeed.

The position of the Fianna Fáil Party, which has been absolutely consistent from the very start, is that Ireland deserves a significant easing of the burden of bank related debt. Over the past two years, the European Union and European Central Bank have radically changed their policies towards dealing with failing banks. Today, states are able to close down banks and burn bondholders without the fear of contagion, which was the defining characteristic of the crisis from 2008 to 2010. The Taoiseach acknowledged this at a meeting with President Hollande in Paris last year when he stated it was the imposition of this policy by the ECB which prevented the burning of bondholders at that particular time. No amount of grandstanding can change that reality.

It was the absence of these policies by the European Central Bank and others which was directly and specifically responsible for the level of debt carried by the State and the State being pushed out of the sovereign debt market. The new and more pragmatic leadership at the ECB has perhaps been the most significant game changer in the past 12 months in relation to the eurozone at a wider level. I note the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, is acknowledging this.

Mario Draghi has made a difference-----

The Government made a difference.

-----with his more pragmatic approach to the European Central Bank, ECB. This has changed the atmosphere across Europe and the external perception of it. Last year's existential crisis in the eurozone has eased considerably. It is not out of the woods yet, but it is in a significantly better position than it was.

The banking union was agreed last June. It has been a significant development, although we await the actual realisation and meat on the bone of that proposal. GDP growth has been slower than expected, making our debt dynamics more worrying and concentrating minds within European institutions, including the ECB.

Ireland is sticking to the bailout programme plan despite all of the condemnation of same in an earlier period. The Irish people have taken a great deal and proven resilient in the face of the additional taxes, cutbacks and so forth with which they have been confronted. We would welcome any easing of that debt position. Although we have not had time to analyse the full details of whatever deal has been announced, we look forward to a deeper and more independent analysis and closer scrutiny of same. From what the Taoiseach has stated, it appears that the deal will improve our cash flow and funding positions in terms of how much the National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA, must borrow in future. This is to be welcomed.

The deal gives greater certainty to our capacity to leave the bailout programme. In realistic and broader terms, however, this will not make a significant difference to the everyday life experience of people on the island. It just means that we will be borrowing on the markets as opposed to borrowing at good rates from the ECB. This will be the only difference after moving out of the bailout programme, as the disciplines of the market will continue to exist in terms of one's fiscal position.

From what the Taoiseach has stated, the deal represents a modest easing of the budgetary situation to the tune of €1 billion. We have €5 billion to go if we are to reach the 3% deficit target. This seems to have been eased by €1 billion. In this respect, what is the situation as regards compliance with the deficit target, does the Government have the flexibility to apply the €1 billion to reducing, for example, the €3 billion plus correction anticipated in next year's budget and will the deal mean fewer taxes than would otherwise have been imposed in the next budget? Will the deal have a direct impact on the €5 billion adjustment that is due in the next two years? Will it lessen the correction? People on the street and at home would like to hear that it would. They are concerned about the amount of taxes that they must pay, the various cuts in education, health and so on and the challenges facing a range of sectors in society. We need more clarity on this issue.

On the basis of all reasonable economic, social and equity concerns, Ireland has a significant right to debt relief in this regard. We were the first to take a hit to prevent contagion in the eurozone. Our country was dealt with unfairly.

We acknowledge the work of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan,-----

-----notwithstanding his difficulties with other political leaders in the Cabinet who undoubtedly conspired and combined to frustrate his efforts-----

Do not be talking rubbish.

Fianna Fáil did-----


-----with their belated rush to claim a preliminary victory and so on.

That was the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Does he remember the backhand he got from the Minister for Finance?


We should also acknowledge the work of the Central Bank Governor, Professor Honohan, on Ireland's behalf-----

Deputy Martin always has one eye on the media.

-----and the fact that his job was made much more difficult by the behaviour of many Ministers who should have kept silent as he went about his difficult task.

Tell us another one.

His job was made more difficult by the mess that Fianna Fáil left.


What the Government is claiming-----

The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, got a cup of the best from-----

-----for the deal cannot be taken at face value. We all knew that a deal was going to happen and that the Government would claim-----


Well, we did. We knew that the Government would claim it as a major development. I would make the point-----

The Government told us so many times that we believed it.


It was, after all, the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte-----


It was the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, who stated that the Government would not pay the debt like it did last year.

A Deputy

Tell us another one.


I would like to make the point-----

Deputy Martin should-----

A Deputy

Go back to that shopping centre-----


With respect, will the Taoiseach-----

Micheál knew all along and never told the lads.

A Deputy

It is WikiLeaks over there.

Look at the depression up on the back bench.

I have never seen such a sad group of-----

They are not our lads at all.

Look at the wind bags.

The Government was always going to claim a victory and so forth, but that is not what concerns me or people outside the House.


The key question on which we need clarification is what difference the deal will make-----

Sure, the Deputy must know the answer.

-----to the overall stock of Government debt.


May I ask the question again?

I do not want further interruptions.

The Minister for Finance will have to quieten the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, again.

This is a serious issue. The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, was a bit giddy last night. The giddiness has continued into today. That is fair enough, but-----

Deputy Martin is tripping over his own words.

-----I have questions that I want to put on the record of the House and I would appreciate a response. What difference will the deal make to the overall stock of Government debt?

The Government will abolish the property tax unless-----

It would appear that "None" is the answer.

Deputy Martin is getting help from up in the corner.

Do we owe as much today as we owed yesterday? The key metric in assessing any benefit from the promissory note restructuring is the term extension, that is, the amount of extra time that the Government can secure to take advantage of rock bottom ECB financing rates. What is the average rate of interest and what is the term of the new bonds issued to replace the promissory note?

We told the Deputy.

The key question has not been answered because Mario Draghi stated that he noted the Irish operation. How long will the ECB permit the Central Bank to hold the bonds until the latter must sell them into the market?

That is the question.

Could we have a specific response to this fundamental and important question? It weighs heavily on the value of the deal. Will a solidarity dividend arise from the deal in terms of the tax increases and expenditure cuts in next year's budget? Will funds be freed up for much needed capital investment in the economy? People are anxious to ascertain whether this will come about in the deal's aftermath. Has the troika offered an opinion or expressed a view on the deal's impact on the completion of the programme and our adherence to our various agreed financial targets?

And will Christmas come in July?

Is it the position that, once converted into Government bonds, no further restructuring can be done, as such actions would amount to a default? Was this the best possible deal?

It was better than what Fianna Fáil could have done anyway.

An earlier deal was resisted and rejected. Can this deal ever again be revisited or is it the definitive conclusion to the cost of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide and how they will be apportioned?

We had a late night. Deputy Martin is putting us to sleep.

At last year's June summit, it was clearly stated that there would be a separation of sovereign debt from banking debt. It has not been done in this deal. In many respects, the link is being cemented. Last June and in the context of the "game changer", the Government gave a clear commitment that the ESM would retroactively fund our investment in our legacy and pillar banks and that significant relief would be forthcoming in respect of the banking debts on our books. At some stage, will the Taoiseach outline to the House when the possibility of the ESM investing in our legacy banks will be addressed?

We have been clear - the ECB did not deal with Ireland fairly from the outset. Europe's policies on burning bondholders and the creation of mechanisms such as the ESM to recapitalise banks did not exist when the banking collapse occurred.

The situation has changed. Ireland deserved a fair deal and a better deal. The question is whether the deal goes far enough and to what degree it affects people in terms of their taxes and cuts to fundamental services on which they rely in their daily lives. Our welcome is very much a qualified one, awaiting a more detailed and independent analysis of the impact of the deal. Any alleviation of the Irish debt situation is welcome and we support it.

Last year, we had to endure Ministers telling us there was a seismic shift and that the State had secured a great deal in Europe on the separation of sovereign debt from private, toxic banking debt. Today, they come before the Chamber and tell us that they will replace the promissory note with a sovereign bond for €28 billion with no write-down whatsoever. So much for the separation of toxic banking debt and sovereign debt. The question most people want answered is how it will affect them. People are angry that they have been lamped and asked by the previous Administration to pay the toxic debt of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide. What they expected in the mandate they gave the parties which now form the Government was to get a deal which would mean they would not have to pay the debt.

The Taoiseach has come to the Chamber today to say to every single man, woman and child in the State that they will pay back every single penny of the toxic Anglo Irish Bank debt. He said it will be done by this generation and future generations of taxpayers. We are supposed to jump with joy at the fact that it is a long-term bond, a 40-year bond with average maturities of 34 years. This week my youngest son began to crawl. He was not even born at the time the promissory note was issued by Deputy Martin and his Cabinet colleagues, yet when he will be 40 years of age the State will still be paying back the toxic debts of Anglo Irish Bank. The Taoiseach said this is a fair deal. He said it is about easing the burden on taxpayers. What about those children who had no hand, act or part to play and who did not benefit from the boom? Does the Taoiseach consider it is fair for them to be lamped with this burden?

Deputy Doherty will have to tell him why Sinn Féin voted for it.

The Taoiseach is aware that due to the construction of the promissory note, the interest paid on it was to the Central Bank, which ended up coming back to the State. If the promissory note ran its course it would have been cancelled out by 2022. The Central Bank would have received €28 billion in capital and that would be it.

Does Deputy Doherty want the promissory note back?

The Taoiseach has said that not only will the full €28 billion will be paid back in a sovereign bond but €1 billion of interest will be paid on top of that every single year. The payment will no longer be circular because the Central Bank will not hold the bond for a 40-year period. Bondholders will get the interest paid by the State. One could ask what all of that will mean. When one gets rid of all the spin, the €28 billion from the promissory note will be paid back in a sovereign bond and €34 billion of interest will be paid on top of that. Fair play to the lads. What they have done is turned a €28 billion promissory note – the cost of the toxic debt of Anglo Irish Bank – into a €64 billion sovereign liability to the State.

That is rubbish. It is nonsense.

Deputy Doherty still cannot crawl or make sense.

Deputy Doherty should wave his magic wand.

There was not one heckle when the Taoiseach or Tánaiste spoke. Could we have order so that Members can have their say?

Please. Deputy Pearse Doherty has the floor.

Every single year for at least the first 25 years when the bonds start to be redeemed, there will be approximately €1 billion of interest to be paid. At the end of the process we must pay back the total value of the bonds. What the Government has done is double the cost of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank.

Deputy Doherty does not understand.

People will stop me in the street to ask what it will mean for them.


If they are one of the four-----

Deputy Doherty should be allowed to speak.

Please. I will not say it again. We want respect for the person who is speaking. Deputy Doherty has the floor.

I appreciate that the Government would like to spin to the effect that it got rid of the toxic debt but sometimes it can be difficult to listen to hard truths. People want to know what the deal will mean for them. They want to know what it will mean for the person in mortgage distress, the mother whose child is planning to emigrate or the person who is unemployed. Does it mean they will not pay back the debt? Under the Government’s proposal to turn the promissory note into a sovereign bond that will be put out into the market, every single man, woman and child will pay approximately €14,000. That is not the deal the people were waiting for. That is not the mandate the people gave the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party. What we wanted was a debt write-down. As I said last night, the Government has wound down Anglo Irish Bank but it has not wound down the debt. What we have found out today is that instead of winding down the debt, the Government has cranked it up. It has placed liabilities on the State and on this and future generations.

I will conclude with a number of questions because the detail is still scant and we must tease it out and parse it. The Taoiseach indicated that the deal will assist us in reaching the troika targets by approximately €1 billion. He is aware that under the Government’s plan next year’s budget involves €3.1 billion of tax increases and cuts. More austerity will be heaped on top of the €30 billion of adjustment that took place in the past six budgets. Could the Taoiseach confirm that only €2.1 billion will be required as a result of the initiative he announced today?

Could he also tell us the net present value of the promissory note replacement and the net present gain in that regard? For how long has the Central Bank agreed to hold on to the sovereign bond? Serious questions must be asked. This time last year the Government said it would not pay the promissory note. We know from Mario Draghi that he took copious notes at yesterday’s European Central Bank dinner and its meeting today. The question remains as to how the deal will be a benefit to people. How can it be presented as a fair deal when the overall mountain of debt on the Irish people has been increased? The Taoiseach might decide to shake his head but he has not announced an interest-free bond. He has not announced that the Government will issue a zero coupon rate bond. If that were the case it would cost €28 billion. The Taoiseach has said there will be an average interest rate of 3%.

That is what is happening. When one gets rid of all the spin, although Fine Gael’s Labour Party colleagues applauded the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, and the Taoiseach, the Government has doubled the liability on the State and the people.

That is untrue.

It is not true.

This is not the type of deal the Irish people wanted. They demanded a write-down and they deserve a write-down. The debt should not be heaped on generations to come.

That is disappointing, Pearse.

It is simply more spin from the Government. It might bring benefits in terms of the general Government balance, but it has not removed the burden of the placement of the Anglo Irish Bank on the shoulders of taxpayers, which was wrong. It has increased it. This was the time - the golden hour - to secure a deal, to say to the ECB that we are not in a position to pay back this debt.

Let us look at our unemployment rates, the 430,000 people who are unemployed – 60% of whom are long-term unemployed. Let us look at the 87,000 who emigrated last year and the similar number who are planning to emigrate next year. Let us look at the one in four people who are in mortgage distress, who have either interest-only repayments or are in mortgage arrears. Look at the 100,000 people who were forced to go to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul simply to put food on their table or oil into tanks to keep warm during the winter months.

They are the reasons and the mandate that the Government had to say to the ECB that we are not paying this back. I watched Mario Draghi's press conference and he was like a Cheshire cat. There is no more ELA because the ECB got what it wanted, hook, line and sinker. It will be paid back in full and bondholders who will buy or hold this bond in the future will also get full payment on this toxic debt and the interest on top of it. Shame on the Minister, shame on the Taoiseach and shame on the Tánaiste. This is not the mandate they were given.


Hear, hear.

I hope when all the Deputies on the opposite side of the House return to their constituencies and face their people that they will think this is such a good deal and will be in a mood to laugh because the laugh will be on the other side of their faces.

I will say my few words on my own behalf and on behalf of the Independents. I am a very small businessman of long standing. I have to ask the question, which every Irish person will ask tonight: when is a deal not a deal? This, clearly, is not a deal. Like the other speakers, I want to pay tribute to the Taoiseach, the Minister, Deputy Noonan, and the officials in the Department of Finance for their hard work and endeavours, but sadly they have not delivered. What have we got? A child who is born today will get a lovely birthday present in 25 years time, in 2038 - a noose around his or her neck. That is what will happen. We are kicking the can down the road. Why did the Government not act on the mandate it got less than two years ago? This time two years ago its members were out canvassing. According to the Tánaiste, hell's fire was not going to be hot enough for the bondholders. Satan was stoking the fire and the Tánaiste was going to be hotter than that and he was going to burn them, but no bondholder has been burned.

Nobody said that.

Of course they said that and they should not be engaging in spin.

Never once did we say that.

It was written, as were the pledges. How many times was it said in here? The Tánaiste with indignation attacked the Members on this side of the House for their failures and ineptitude and he was going to show us all the way - Labour's way or Frankfurt's way. He should go back and tell the trade unions, tell his people, this and he will get his answer.

It is unbelievable for the people of the country to see that the bankers, the speculators and the unsecured bondholders are laughing all the way to the bank again. We might have got rid of Anglo Irish Bank and we welcome that - it should have happened four years ago - but, unfortunately-----


Yes. I admit that.

I made a big mistake in voting for the guarantee. The Taoiseach and the Fine Gael Deputies voted for it and they have not accepted that they made a mistake. I made a mistake but the Deputies opposite came in and took up the same policies with gusto-----

What about the deal the Deputy had with Bertie?

-----in endowing themselves to Angela and the people over there. The Government is having them over for a party this weekend. It will tell them all about the big deal, they will have a big celebration in Dublin Castle and they will have a great time. However, as I said, the people outside this House who are watching what is happening in here are asking where is the unequivocal write-down that was promised. We were all promised that. The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, let the cat, or the rabbit, out of the bag some months ago, but he has gone back into the burrow again because we have no write-down. The Tánaiste was out in Chile with his chilling words but where are they now? They were mealy-mouthed words.

When I look across at the member of Cabinet, I do not see one businessman sitting at the Cabinet table and that is the problem because they do not understand business. They do not understand the value of a pound.


Minister Reilly has made a business out of his profession.

The Deputy should speak through the Chair.

Through the Chair, I will ask some questions. What will the impact of this be for the ordinary working man and woman on the street? The Labour Party might answer that as it is supposed to represent them. At one time the old Labour Party party certainly did so.


Hear, hear.

Ask Social Justice Ireland what are its thoughts about this. Has the Government proofed this against any kind of a measurement?

Measurement of what?

No, it has not. It is in a spin with its spin doctors. It did not know what time it was coming in today. I read where the ECB noted its actions last night, just noted them if you would not mind.


I do not know what kind of note it would take and I would be over there because it does not treat matters in terms of the reality of our position. I have met the troika on three occasions and its members do not treat us in terms of the reality of our position. The Taoiseach said one thing before the election only two years ago and now he is doing the exact opposite. He is confused, and the troika knows all the Government members are a pushover. That is sad.

What effect will this have on the people struggling to pay their mortgages and those in negative equity? Those are the people who visit the constituency clinics of Government Members on a daily basis. What impact will it have on the homeless, those on social welfare and all the people the Members opposite claim to represent? Will small businesses which cannot get credit be able to go into the bank next Monday and get the credit they were unable to get today or yesterday? No, they will not. There is no change in banking policy. There is no change in terms of getting this economy moving, which the Taoiseach promised to do. It is more austerity on top of austerity and the people cannot and will not accept it. As I said, the grin will be gone off the Members' faces when they go to their constituencies.

I got caught here once clapping for a measure in the Department of Finance.

Does the Deputy even understand it?

That is the reason I was loth to clap this time because when one reads the small print of the deal, one can see it is not a deal. It is a cop-out, Taoiseach. It is a let-down to the Taoiseach, the public representatives sitting behind him, the Government parties and, above all, the Irish people. We had to fight and we had our chance. From all the noises the Taoiseach was making in recent weeks, we thought we would get something of a seismic deal, but we got nothing. Not a shilling has been written down off the legacy debt.

As I said last night, not one banker, accountant or person has been arraigned. Everybody is entitled to their day in court and to justice but not one person has been fully charged and brought before the courts two or three years later. Who is the Government protecting - that is the question I want to ask - or what mighty organisation on high is it protecting?


I asked that question of the previous Government. Who was it protecting?

Why are the ordinary people being bedevilled? Children born today will have a noose around their necks 25 years from now when they should be graduating from college. The people were promised many things by the Minister, Deputy Quinn, in the election but why should this impact on our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren and future generations?

I hate to say this, but if I could ask the late Michael Collins what he thought of this deal, I and we all know what the answer would be.


What would Liam Lynch, any of the founder members or the 1916 people say?

The Deputy is better craic than Ross O'Carroll Kelly

Sorry, I did not hear you Pat.

The Deputy should speak through the Chair.

The Deputy is better craic than the lads up the back.

Thank you, Minister. It is all great craic. The Minister is the crack in the Labour Party. He is the man who said we make promises in the elections and the people will not mind but they are waiting for you.


Hear, hear.

They are waiting for you in the long grass. The Deputy might be gone out on pension but the lads will not be out on pension. They know where they will be - facing the music.

On a serious note-----


It is so sad that this Government got one of the finest mandates any Government ever got and it reneged totally on it. It has been an utter failure in terms of the people who elected it. That is a sad legacy to leave behind. I accept it inherited a great deal of trouble - it talks about that every day in the House - but it is time to move on. Its members are in charge now. The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is in charge now, and the ten additional Garda stations he will close in ten minutes is an indication of the contempt with which he treats the Garda.


It is unbelievable. It is time to move on.

We are a proud people. We want to pay our way, and we want to pay the debt we owe, but not the massive billions in debt that accrued from money that was borrowed and lent here by rogue bankers, speculators and unsecured bondholders that the Tánaiste said the Government would burn. Where are they now? They are warming their backsides at the fire and the Taoiseach is rubbing their bellies with a nice bit of Vaseline. That is what he is doing. We know from where the corporate donations have come.

The Deputy is making a disgrace to this House.

This deal is an abject failure.

The Deputy is making a disgrace to this House.

What did the Minister say?

This is not the Gaiety Theatre. He is making a disgrace of the House.

Will he leave the Commissioner waiting another hour for a meeting?

Deputy McGrath-----

No. He treats everybody with the same disdain, even the Garda Commissioner.

The Deputy should speak through the Chair.

It is a sad day for Ireland because we have again burdened our people, and future generations, for God knows how long, with a debt they, their parents or grandparents did not incur. The fat cats, and the regulators both in the EU and here, allowed it to happen - they allowed the money to be shovelled in here when they knew the economy was overheating.

They have walked away, scot free, in spite of the mandate that was given to the Government to deal with this. That is what the Government parties sold themselves on. I am so disappointed.


Deputies can laugh away and talk all they want but I am so disappointed. Having said that, we are used to disappointments from the Taoiseach. We had disappointment yesterday with regard to the Magdalen laundries and we have had it every day since he came into office. We will have a debate next week, which I look forward to. I also look forward to my colleagues making realistic and honest points. The bottom line, however, is that the debt is crippling, it is not our debt and we have no write-off. The deal is an abject failure.

Would Deputy McGrath be able to make it go away?

That concludes the contributions. We will now resume the Second Stage debate on the Water Services Bill 2013.


I wish to make a point of order.

On a point of order, this is, by any standards, a very significant announcement.

That is not a point of order.

What is the Deputy's point of order?


Would the Deputies ever shut up and let people speak?


Can I ask the Taoiseach whether he is willing to answer questions in the House on the announcement he has just made?

Obviously, he is not.

There is no provision for that.

There is a serious point here. When the Taoiseach spoke, he said that if the Dáil wanted, he would put a motion regarding this issue to the House-----

He said next week.

-----to see whether the Dáil agreed that not just children as yet unborn, but their children in turn, should carry the Anglo toxic debt. He did not say what his proposal was-----

That is a matter for the Whips, Deputy.

Can somebody from the Government tell us, for a change, when such a motion will be put forward and when a debate will be afforded in Dáil Éireann so that we can repudiate this disgraceful deal?

That is a matter for the Whips. I am sure the Whips will deal with the matter of the debate. In fact, the Chief Whip will answer the Deputy's question now.

There will be a full debate, as the Taoiseach said earlier. A motion will be tabled on Tuesday and the House will sit on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday or for as long as the Opposition and the Government want to debate the issue.