I propose to take Questions Nos. 212, 220 to 222, inclusive, and 232 together.
As the Deputy is aware, the legislation surrounding liquidation ranks employees as preferential creditors in respect of certain amounts owing to them on a winding up, including accrued wages and salaries, holiday pay, sick pay, statutory redundancy, pensions contributions and claims for damages arising from accidents. Any claims over and above that described above will rank as an unsecured claim in the liquidation process.
There are standard rules which apply to the distribution of the assets of companies in liquidation and it would not be appropriate for me to interfere with these rules. However the State does intervene to ensure that statutory redundancy is available through the Social Insurance Fund and that arrears of pay, sick pay, holiday pay or pay in lieu of statutory notice (limited to €600 per week up to a maximum of eight weeks) are payable from the Insolvency Payments Scheme. The Minister for Social Protection will rank as a preferential creditor of IBRC in respect of any payments made to employees of IBRC from the Social Insurance Fund or the Insolvency Payments Scheme.
Any action taken by the Minister which might divert the assets from IBRC creditors to employees, could be challenged in the Courts. I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that any voluntary severance scheme, that was in place prior to liquidation, is no longer operational.
The Special Liquidators were promptly in contact with staff on Thursday, 7 February and, unlike in other liquidations, the majority of employees have been re-hired by the special liquidators, for a minimum period of 3 months, to ensure an orderly wind-down of the business. In addition some staff may in time be re-hired by NAMA or other purchasers of the assets. This should provide some reassurance to employees.