Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages

Amendments Nos. 1 and 3 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:

“(ii) by the substitution in paragraph (a) of “by agreement;” for “and either by agreement or compulsorily;”,

(iii) by the insertion of the following after paragraph (a):

“(aa) acquire compulsorily, if no viable alternative land may be acquired by agreement;”,”.

I tabled a number of amendments on Committee Stage with a view to removing IDA Ireland's power to compulsorily acquire land but they were ruled out of order. It would have been my preference that IDA Ireland did not have such power, particularly as the power to take land from people at the behest of foreign private companies is quite extraordinary, not only in the sense that it is very far reaching but also in the sense of it being very unusual in a global context. As I cannot table those amendments again, I have put forward amendments Nos. 1 and 3, which at least curb the powers of IDA Ireland under the 1986 Act. If passed, all the amendments would do is create a situation where IDA Ireland could only exercise its power to use compulsory purchase orders, CPOs, if there was no viable alternative land available for whatever American multinational for which it wishes to seize the land.

For example, if the Thomas Reid case, which gave rise to this Bill, were to be rerun tomorrow with the no-viable-alternative provision I am proposing here, there is every chance that Mr. Reid would not have had to be put through the years of hell through which he was put by IDA Ireland when seeking to grab his lands for Intel. There would be many other landowners, as there were, in the 2 km radius of the site who would have been willing to sell their land to Intel or to have it compulsorily purchased. However, Intel wanted his land because it was the easiest option. I do not believe that facilitating the bottom line of private companies and their shareholders should be our key goal. It is a little strange that political parties which otherwise would be crying over interference with private property do not seem to be as exercised about this issue as we are. The key to the provision I am putting forward, as a happy middle ground, is that it would stop people from being forced off their lands and out of their homes purely on the basis of what constitutes the most economically advantageous route for a multinational corporation.

It is worth pointing out that while Thomas Reid was being dragged through the courts by IDA Ireland and Intel in 2014, Intel had global profits of $11.7 billion and our Government deficit was $7.2 billion yet the taxpayer spent €1.4 million going out to bat for this multibillion corporation against one Irish citizen who just wanted to hold onto his land and home. That is quite incredible. The literature globally on the use of CPOs talks about them being absolutely appropriate for state infrastructure projects and occasionally appropriate for public private partnerships, which is unsurprising in a neoliberal world order, but the concept of forcibly expropriating land for private multinationals is rare. It is practically unparalleled on the global scale. The Bill only deals with CPOs for large industry, which in Ireland overwhelmingly means foreign industry. In fact, Enterprise Ireland has been specifically excluded from the Bill so if anybody thinks that we are getting land for small and medium sized businesses, we are not. A review of compulsory purchase order laws by a World Bank senior counsel said that an overarching principle in most cases is that a government's taking powers are extraordinary powers that are intended to meet public needs that are not well addressed through the operation of the market, hence it was not typical for laws to allow governments to use compulsory acquisition as the normal means of assembling land for purposes that are clearly commercial, industrial or for other profitable private uses alone. That is exactly what we are talking about facilitating here.

There is a deep irony in the situation when one considers some of the case law from the United States in the 2000s. In one instance the state of Connecticut won a case that allowed it to expropriate homes for the redevelopment of an area in the city of New London where the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer wanted to build a research facility. As a result of the outcry from this case, 42 states changed their laws to prohibit or limit the taking of homes and lands for the benefit of private corporations under the pretext of economic development. It is interesting that in the wake of that case the then President of the United States, George W. Bush, who was not a famous socialist, signed an executive order restricting the use of CPOs, stating that they were only permitted for the purpose of benefitting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties by being given ownership or use of the property taken. In other words, in the United States, the home country of most of the multinationals that have bases here in Ireland, those companies cannot ask their government to grab land for them. They can only do that here. One could not make this stuff up.

There is another lesson from the aftermath of that high profile case. When it hit the headlines in the United States the public were predictably horrified at the idea that the state had the power to grab land for private enterprise, and the political response to that public horror was to curb those powers. Ireland had its high-profile court case and the political reaction was to entrench the powers here, the complete opposite response. It is absolutely disgraceful.

My final point is that the fourth programme of law reform of the Law Reform Commission, which looked at the laws on compulsory purchase, came up with a possible list of guiding principles for reform. Having reviewed case law and legal principles the commission wrote that in deciding on the approach that should be taken when considering whether a CPO is consistent with an interference with a person's property rights under the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights the acquiring authority may intervene with those rights only where it is in the pursuit of a legitimate aim which seeks to further the common good and not solely private interests. My amendments are compliant with those requirements.

As I mentioned on previous Stages, Sinn Féin is happy to support this Bill. However, we would also like to see stated in the Bill that a compulsory purchase order, CPO, may only be exercised by the IDA in circumstances where no other alternative options are available, and as a last resort. I am happy, therefore, to support amendments Nos. 1 and 3, as we believe they clarify the approach the IDA would be expected to take in considering a CPO, namely, that it may only be exercised where no other viable land is available by agreement. This spells out the common sense approach the IDA would be expected to take in these rare circumstances and that it strikes a fair balance. I thank Deputy Daly for tabling these amendments, both of which Sinn Féin supports. This proposal strikes the fine balance that must be achieved to ensure that land and property owners are not adversely affected in the pursuit of suitable sites for multinational companies.

On Committee Stage, the Minister of State undertook to come back to on what would happen if land was acquired by CPO but for some reason the use of the land fell through and on whether the land could be sold back to the landowner at the same price.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the work and success of the IDA in attracting jobs to Ireland. We need to focus on bringing more of these jobs to regional Ireland, which will require greater investment by the Government in our infrastructure.

I thank Deputies Daly and Quinlivan for their contributions throughout the entire debate on this Bill. I thank Deputy Daly for tabling this amendment but I am unable to accept it because it is not necessary to include this provision in the legislation. The Deputy will be aware that this Bill addresses the implications of the 2015 Supreme Court judgment and seeks to ensure that the IDA will continue to have the capacity to compulsorily acquire property on an exceptional basis, in limited circumstances and subject to strict requirements. I must emphasise, as I did on previous Stages, that this Bill does not grant any additional or expanded compulsory purchase powers to the IDA. It remains the case that a CPO will only ever be considered as a last resort in a truly exceptional circumstance where all other viable options have been exhausted. It is abundantly clear that a compulsory purchase would not be pursued unless it was necessary and this would not be the case if there was a suitable alternative.

I reiterate that the aim of this Bill is to modernise and apply fair practice to the IDA's CPO process. The process used in this legislation is well established process outlined in the Housing Act 1966. I remind the Deputy that as per the terms of the Supreme Court judgment provision has been made in section 7 for an independent body, An Bord Pleanála, to take a full adjudication role in the process. This role, which is written directly into the legislation, is aligned to An Bord Pleanála's existing role in compulsory purchases carried out by other State bodies. The consideration of suitable alternative sites is a key part of the existing objection procedure that is overseen by An Bord Pleanála and will now be applied to the IDA. For this reason, the amendment is not necessary and I do not propose to accept it.

The Minister of State said that a CPO will be used only when all other avenues have been exhausted and for this reason the amendments are not necessary. This may be the case but that did not happen in the Reid case and there is no reason to believe it will happen in the future either. The amendment says to multinationals that if they can afford to buy other land from a willing seller, which is viable for their use, they cannot turn to the IDA to get it cheaper by way of a CPO. This is in line with the Law Reform Commission's recommendations, the Constitution and the European Court of Human Rights. It is not asking too much. I need the amendment accepted if I am to support the Bill.

The IDA has had this power since the 1980s but the only time it used it was in the Thomas Reid case. It is important to point out that in that regard the Supreme Court adjudicated that it had acted ultra vires of the 1986 legislation and also that it was objectively biased in its quest to CPO Thomas Reid's home, the objective bias being that the chairman of the IDA at the time of the CPO was also a non-executive director of the consultancy group that targeted the site. The judge in this case found that a reasonable observer would say that he could not have been objective. Giving powers to a State agency which is not democratically accountable - An Bord Pleanála has limited oversight provisions - leaves the door open to massive potential abuses. There is no guarantee that the same will not happen again. The Minister of State said that the IDA can only exercise a CPO when all other avenues have been exhausted. The amendment seeks to copperfasten that. It is even better for Fine Gael supporters in that the farmers will benefit because the people buying the land will have to go to a willing seller and maybe pay a bit more rather than relying on the IDA.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 33; Níl, 58; Staon, 0.

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Maurice Quinlivan; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 2 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 2 not moved.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 5, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:

“(a) is satisfied, and can demonstrate, that no viable alternative land may be acquired by agreement,”.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 10; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brady, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Clare Daly and Mattie McGrath.
Question declared carried.