Ba mhaith liom míle buíochas a ghabháil le gach duine a ghlac páirt sa tasc ollmhór seo agus déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Aire Stáit as é a bheith críochnaithe, sa Teach seo ar aon nós. The issue of modernising company law has taken in many people and many different views. It has seemed like an impossible task, looking back on it. However, it has been done by people paying attention to detail and it has taken a vast amount of effort as well.
We take the view that the Companies Bill should have been an opportunity to solve several major problems that are affecting society. I understand the Government has probably taken the view that this is separate to those problems and that those particular problems should be dealt with elsewhere. We take the view that where an opportunity exists, we should take it and ensure we fix the problem.
Some of those problems come about with regard to the lessons we have learned concerning regulation since the crash. I believe opportunities have been lost with this Bill in that regard. The robustness of the compliance statements and responsibilities have not been to our liking. Some of the unions and ICTU have indicated their concern that companies will gain more legal personality and that this may conflict in future with citizens' rights and protections.
The idea of Irish-registered non-resident companies is problematic, as is the difficult and wrong tax problem that is affecting the level of funds that comes into this State and the reputation of the State internationally. This is one of the biggest problems the State is facing with regard to loss of revenue and loss of reputation. We would have preferred to see these issues dealt with in the Bill. I have already remarked on compliance.
We took the view that there are several issues with regard to the winding up of companies. We have seen in the past 18 months especially a large number of employees who have been on the wrong side of businesses and companies which have wound up. Every day we see unscrupulous companies - they are by far in the minority but they exist none the less - which use company law to aid their efforts in reducing their exposure to fulfilling their rights to employees. We believe employees are insufficiently protected and we would prefer to have seen this reflected in the Bill. The opportunity remains for the Government to address some of these problems and we hope it will consider these and the Sinn Féin proposals in the Seanad.