Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: #EU says they're interested in Dialogue - So why don't they talk to #Syria ..? They say they're interested in Rule of Law…
Mick Wallace Does #US Imperialism know no shame...?The #USEnvoyYemen is thanking #Saudi for supporting the people of #Yemen ...?… https://t.co/mlEHHPqYFL
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: The lack of concern shown by the #EU for the people of #Venezuela has been shocking and says much about their so called 'E…
Mick Wallace An Atalanta win over Real Madrid would be seriously good for football... https://t.co/hUfOdNomaO

Dail Diary

Dáil Diary no 48 - 10 July 2015

#NAMA Has Been a Dream Come True for Many US Vulture Funds...

The controversy over NAMA's sale of the Nothern Ireland loan portfolio, Project Eagle, has not gone away. It suited the Government just fine when the PAC said they would bring NAMA before the committee. - It also suited NAMA, whose polished performance was always going to give them some breathing space, given that the PAC, - no disrespect to any of it's members - just doesn't have the wherewithal to hold them to account. Here is a part of my piece on the workings of NAMA from last Tuesday, when we were debating a Housing Bill . -

 

"Aside from what seem to be a lot of spurious deals where it appears the taxpayer could have fared a great deal better, NAMA is actually boasting that it will make approximately €1 billion in profit over the six to eight year period. That still leaves the taxpayer about €40 billion short. Given that the market has been rising for a while, it is outrageous that more was not realised.

The point the Deputy made about the social dividend and NAMA's failure to provide it is a frightening one. What is really uncomfortable is the fact that we have a serious level of inconsistency in how NAMA has done its business. Sometimes it applies its rules rigidly and sometimes it does not. A simple example is that of the Dublin GAA trying to get hold of the Spawell but failing to do so. It beggars belief that a sporting organisation in Ireland would not have been facilitated and given a little bit of an extra chance. It is not like the GAA was going to make money on it. It intended to provide a social outlet for young people and should have been helped by NAMA. NAMA will argue that it is under an obligation to maximise the potential of the asset for the taxpayer. When it makes that argument, I would like NAMA to explain its approach when a bidder went to buy not the loans but the debt of the Chicago Spire, which was at $78 million plus costs which brought it to approximately $93 million. An investor sought to buy the debt, and this was every penny that was owed to the bank. This was not the reduced value, but the par value.

In other words, this investor was prepared to pay the debt in full but NAMA gave it to Jones Lang LaSalle in New York to sell. This was a site in Chicago. Even if NAMA thought it could get more for it, it was not in New York that it would have got it. It would have been interesting if it had marketed it in Chicago. Why could NAMA not accept the debt being bought out? It is estimated that it was sold for $35 million. NAMA refused $78 million, plus the cost, and it accepted a figure in the region of €35 million. That was claimed to be in the interests of the taxpayer in the same way as NAMA not accepting the bid from Dublin GAA for the Spawell because it claimed it was maximising the potential of the asset.

It is horrendous that NAMA could not deliver housing units for Dublin, in particular where there is such a serious housing crisis. It beggars belief. The argument was spun that certain property was not really suitable. The funny thing about that is that NAMA did not want to give much of the property that was suitable to the State because it was attractive to investors. What has happened is that vulture funds, mostly from the US, were allowed to cherry pick the best of it because NAMA sought to sell the best of it to them. It then considered some of the other property, which was not quite as attractive to the vulture funds, for social or affordable housing.

NAMA is a State body over which governments - this one and the previous one - do not seem to have much control. Issues are raised about it. The idea that the Comptroller and Auditor General has it all in hand beggars belief. I have seen too many things which I do not believe the Comptroller and Auditor General has seen, and I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is honest. It would be an incredible challenge for the Comptroller and Auditor General and the few people working with him to keep tabs on everything that is happening within NAMA. It would be a massive challenge, and it is not only about auditing. Does the Comptroller and Auditor General have expertise in the area of markets, construction and the future potential of assets? Does he have all those people working for him in order to be able to test the waters and ensure NAMA is doing what is best for the taxpayer at every turn? It is asking way to much of the Comptroller and Auditor General to think that he could come up with all those answers. He would be an amazing man, irrespective of how many people he had working with him.

Sadly, there is now the idea that the Committee of Public Accounts can examine this, behind which the Government can hide, as if it is an Oireachtas investigation and the committee will see if everything is all right. That is not what will happen. If those in government want to know the truth and if they really want to know if the taxpayer was best served in these deals, they will eventually have to initiate an independent inquiry into the workings of NAMA. It is extremely important because not only are we dealing with things that have happened - people must be held responsible for what they have done - but there are so many assets still to be sold. Will that be done right? At present, we do not know and given that NAMA remains a secret society, we do not have a real opportunity to see how it operates. An independent investigation might bring us that. There is a great deal of money at stake. The figures are astronomical so it is extremely important the State addresses this.

The Government should not put this off and kick the can down the road. We need an independent inquiry established right now. How it would be structured is an argument for another day. The Government will probably have to bring in some people from outside the country. I refer to many of the more senior players in the services the Government might use. There is such an incestuous nature to much of what goes on this country that the Government will probably have to bring in some external expertise."

Mick Wallace.

 

 

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 Dáil Diary no 47 - 2 July 2015

#NAMA - Only an Independent Inquiry will stop speculation...

There are a lot of people who believe that the workings of NAMA have left much to be desired. It is worrying that this State body which we’ve given the task of prioritising the best interests of the Irish taxpayer, has operated in such a secret fashion. Today, I asked the Tánaiste Joan Burton why, when she entered Government in 2011, she hadn’t followed up on her proposal in 2009 for an oversight committee that would put information re the working of Nama into the public domain, every 30 days. We will continue to have talk and speculation till we decide to have an Independent Inquiry, and find out what really happened. It may take a while, but the lid will not be kept on this forever. Here’s part of the exchanges in the Dáil today at Leader’s Questions, minus the parts with the Ceann Comhairle cutting my mic once again...-

"There is growing concern regarding the workings of NAMA and whether the taxpayer has been well served by it . The Taoiseach seems content that all is well, but I know many people who think otherwise. The Tánaiste is an accountant and might have more concerns than the Taoiseach. There have been disturbing allegations around the largest ever sale of property in the history of the island of Ireland. The Northern Ireland loan portfolio, Project Eagle, involving more than 850 properties with a par value of €4.5 billion, was sold to US private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for less than €1.5 billion, a surprise winner of the tender.

In June 2012, following consultation with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, and Mr. Sammy Wilson MLA, NAMA reappointed Mr. Frank Cushnahan and Mr. Brian Rowntree to the Northern Ireland Advisory Committee. Two weeks later, a report by a Northern Ireland auditor's office seriously questioned the stewardship of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which led to the resignation of Brian Rowntree and Frank Cushnahan. The report found breaches of housing executive guidelines in the sale of at least 27 land deals, the executive board being given wrong or no information relating to key property deals, favoured property speculators were allowed to buy land well under market value, expressions of interest from other parties not being declared or considered, and at times no reasons being offered for some off-market sales.

These two individuals stayed in NAMA, one of them up until the summer of 2014. Does the Tánaiste think this was a good idea? Back in 2009, the Tánaiste proposed an oversight committee for NAMA, with the purpose of informing the public about what is happening in NAMA. In the past four and a half years, has the Tánaiste at any time considered putting that idea forward again? Given this has not been done, does the Tánaiste believe now is the time for a serious look at how NAMA operates? We need an independent inquiry to see if the interests of the taxpayers have always been the top priority for NAMA.

The Tánaiste:  I am not familiar with the details of the particular case the Deputy outlined. The issue of the oversight of NAMA and proper procedures is important because NAMA was, in effect, a kind of bad bank for the explosion that happened in the Irish property market when construction and the financing of it fell apart.
In regard to the arrangements made for NAMA, I suggest that if the Deputy has not already done so, he should submit a detailed question such as this to the Minister for Finance. I do not know whether any of these questions have been raised with NAMA or whether the Deputy has raised his concerns with NAMA.

However, as the Deputy knows, the Comptroller and Auditor General has oversight of NAMA and closely oversees the work it does. When the arrangements regarding NAMA and the banks, following the collapse of the banks, were established, a decision made by the previous Government was followed by the current Government. That decision was that the governance and organisation of NAMA's affairs would not be run directly out of the Civil Service and, in particular, would not be run directly by politicians. I believe this was the correct decision and that it is better that it is run as a business.

Mick Wallace:  Am I to take from what she said that the Tánaiste is happy with how NAMA has worked? The oversight mechanism she proposed in 2009 has not happened, but does she not feel it would have been a significant benefit? She did not address that question.

The Tánaiste said it would be better if politicians were not involved in this episode.

We have had politicians involved and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, and Mr. Sammy Wilson, MLA, were involved in the reappointment of the two men concerned. One of them was reappointed for a second time in 2014, despite the damning report of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. I find that difficult to understand and I also find it difficult to accept that the Tánaiste would be okay with that.

The legal firm acting for Cerberus Capital Management, which purchased the Northern Ireland loan portfolio for €1.5 billion, was Tughans of Belfast. It has been reported that during a routine audit…

An Ceann Comhairle:  This is not an inquisition. This is Leaders' Questions. Would Deputy Wallace put a question please? He is out of time.

Mick Wallace: We are talking about billions of taxpayers' money.

Does the Tánaiste have any concerns that a routine audit of a solicitor's firm that looked after the deal where €4.5 billion of assets were sold for €1.5 billion, with a massive loss for the Irish taxpayer? The routine audit showed that £7 million sterling ended up in an Isle of Man bank account-

It was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party

Does the Tánaiste not think the matter should be looked at?

The Tánaiste:  In terms of this House and under the Constitution, the Comptroller and Auditor General has a specific role, including in regard to the oversight of NAMA. There have been three special reports on NAMA's activities by the Comptroller and Auditor General and they have been broadly positive in their assessment of how NAMA is managing what is a very complex business. I regret that NAMA ever had to exist and that good builders such as Deputy Wallace and the people who worked for him ended up in the crash that followed losing a huge amount of employment and a huge amount of money, but that is what happened when the economy was run into a brick wall. It is very difficult to give a definitive answer on the recovery value of anything which previously had a certain value and which lost its value following the crash.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has done a series of reports on NAMA. I am not clear on whether Deputy Wallace is basically saying he does not accept the Comptroller and Auditor General's reports.

Deputy Clare Daly:   Its remit is limited"

 

Mick Wallace.

 

 

Good soundness is a result of proper supply and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are varied. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the ideal treatment variant for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to bear in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood pressure medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may turn on erectile malfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

Dáil Diary no 46- 26 June 2015

Government's Neo Liberal position enshrines Lack of Fairness & Inequality...

 

This week we had a debate on the idea of a Low Pay Commission. At this stage, most people realise that an economic philosophy called Neo Liberalism, is the dominant approach among Western countries today. It’s a system which thinks that the interests of financial institutions and big business should be put before those of the citizens. It’s a way of thinking that caused one Irish Government to decide to bail out a failed Banking system, and another Government to insist that the Bondholders of the same banks should be paid in full. It is the system that is presently trying to pauperise Greece, which goes against all rational thinking.

In Ireland, we know now that Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, are parties that have brought into the Neo Liberal philosophy. I believe that any ‘Independent; candidates running in the next election, should state in advance whether they would be prepared to go into Government with a Neo Liberal grouping – I for one, will walk from politics, before I would play any part in a Neo Liberal Government.

Here’s my Dáil contribution on the ‘Low Pay Commission’ debate -

Ireland is the only EU15 country that has frozen the national minimum wage since 2007, which is eight years ago now. The idea of a Low Pay Commission is welcome, but I have the feeling that its recommendations are likely to be unimpressive and if the neoliberal agenda and austerity measures introduced by the last two Governments are not seriously scaled back, it will take more than a rise in the minimum wage to stop the march of rising inequality in Ireland. In the proposed Bill, it is stated that when making a recommendation on a national minimum hourly rate of pay, the effects of any proposed order on the cost of living will be taken into account – meaning that Government may keep the minimum wage low, in order to avoid any chance that the higher rate might drive the cost of living up. A form of reverse psychology.  It is highly instructive as to the Government's framing of how the Low Pay Commission will work that there is no mention whatsoever in the Bill of taking into account the cost of living when making a determination as to what the new national minimum wage should be.

On top of this, the Government has done next to nothing to address the fact that we have one of the most inadequate universal public service systems in Europe, along with a cost of living that is 20% higher than the EU average. Instead of improving public services and investing in networks of the State so that we can continue to provide funding for social goods, this Government has engaged in the fire sale of national assets and investments through the medium of NAMA, IBRC and State-owned banks. It has attacked the social welfare system that is one of the last barriers to abject poverty for so many people and proposed tax cuts that will overwhelmingly benefit the highest-income earners. To quote Tom Healy of the Nevin Economic Research Institute,

“I suggest that we are wary of politicians, commentators and economists who come to our TV screens offering treats of ‘more money in your pocket’ through tax cuts. We might ask them to price these tax cuts in public service forgone, community health centres not opened, public transport not invested in, quality and affordable childcare not provided.”

Last Friday, the Tánaiste told an audience in the Croke Park conference centre that not having a job or losing a job is the root cause of inequality. This is a strange way to view the problem of inequality, which does not have a single root cause. It has multiple root causes, which create inequalities of outcome that contribute to worsening inequality of opportunity. Many people in Ireland work, and are still poor. This is due to many factors. First, there has been no Government policy to tackle the problem of low pay. More than 20% of people in employment earn less than two thirds of the average wage. This is one of the highest rates in Europe. Members of Fine Gael have uttered the phrase "living wage" just three times in this Chamber, twice in response to someone else bringing up the issue.


In Scotland, the government has been paying all of its staff above the level of the living wage for some time. More than 200 Scotland-based employers display the living wage accreditation mark, and they are on target to have more than 500 companies on board by March 2016. The living wage is an hourly rate that is set independently and updated annually. Employers choose to pay the living wage on a voluntary basis, while the national minimum wage is statutory and enforced by Revenue and Customs.

Instead of doing something as meaningful as this, that brings the issue of low pay to the forefront of the national conversation, the Government is promising to have a discussion about the minimum wage as long as it does not jar with any of the rules of neoliberal economics, namely that any recommendations by the commission should be made "without creating significant adverse consequences for employment or competitiveness." Globalisation, neoliberalism, the dismantling of international trade barriers, the rise of big business and the power of markets, and the consequent pressure put on countries to be internationally competitive, have led Europe from the golden age of economic stability and household income equality of the 1950s and 1960s to a situation in which, according to the French legal scholar Dr. Alain Supiot, "the problem is not that of adapting the economy to the needs of human beings, but rather the reverse - adapting human beings to the needs of markets, and especially to the needs of financial markets, which supposedly create harmony by making self-interest the basis for all human activity."
This position is one that fails to recognise that there is no wealth other than human beings and that an economy that ill-treats them has little future."

 

Mick Wallace.

Good soundness is a result of proper nutrition and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are different. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the ideal treatment variant for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile disfunction, including many blood stress medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may switch on erectile dysfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

Dáil Diary no 45 – 19 June 2015

Climate Change- Government devoid of Long Term Vision...

Climate Change is one of the biggest problems facing the world today, but trying to get Governments to take it seriously is more than difficult. Sadly, when it is deemed to be not immediate, perceived to cost too much money to honestly address the challenges, politicians tend to bury their heads in the sand – and hope it goes away. Or at least hope that it doesn’t affect them before the next election. This week, I had two questions on the issue with Minister for Energy Alex White, and here are some extracts from the debate. -

“CDM Smith, a company that has led the fracking industry into Poland and Ukraine, is leading the EPA's research project on fracking. It is a little worrying that such a company would be given the job. The company's official line on natural gas is that "It is an abundant, reliable, clean and cost-effective fuel source." Surely, someone else should examine the matter?

Deputy Alex White:  I thank the Deputy for his question which relates to a motion passed by Leitrim County Council. While I have received communication from the county council, as outlined in the Deputy's question, I would comment as follows on the appointment of CDM Smith and the involvement of that company in the multi-agency trans-boundary programme of research commissioned by the EPA on the potential impacts on the environment and human health of unconventional gas exploration and extraction projects.

The programme is managed by the EPA and co-funded by the EPA, my Department and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, with oversight from a broad-based steering committee that includes my Department.

I am aware that there has been some recent focus on the fact that CDM Smith has provided expert advice to oil companies involved in the development of unconventional gas resources. CDM Smith has also provided advice to State bodies and regulatory agencies across its area of expertise. As the Deputy will appreciate, it is common that a broad range of parties will seek to draw on the specialist expertise available from a firm such as CDM Smith. The fact that disparate entities seek to draw on such expertise is generally seen as an indicator of a company's recognised experience.

Mick Wallace:  Although I do not doubt CDM Smith's experience in the area and I understand why people would garner some information from it my point remains the same. The company is involved seriously at the coalface of fracking and would almost promote it. Recently, New York State changed its fracking moratorium into a full ban based on its department of health's review of the latest evidence. CDM Smith's response to this effort by state legislators to protect their drinking water, clean air, the global climate and the public health of their communities was one of condemnation. These people have a vested interest in telling us fracking is good for us. The Minister does not need to have fracking researched. There is enough research to prove to most ordinary people that fracking is bad for our health. A couple of months ago, a Minister said to me here that we were burying our heads in the sand if we ignored the energy potential from fracking. It might not be a bad idea if we did, given that our health would be much better.

Deputy Alex White:  I do not know who said that. It was not me.

Mick Wallace:  It was someone from the Minister's party who had the job before him.

Deputy Alex White:  While I understand what the Deputy is saying, I respectfully disagree with him when he says there is no need to have the matter researched. We should have it researched here and have expert scientific evidence available to us in this jurisdiction.

Evidence is evidence, not opinion. Evidence is about the science, and I would like to see the science as, I am sure, would the Deputy.

Mick Wallace:  Some science experts are climate change deniers and are well-known and are perceived to be very knowledgeable. People can form opinions and very often, sadly, some people have a vested interest in the opinion they form, even if it is based on so-called expert research. Natural gas is a fossil fuel which produces heat-trap carbon dioxide when combusted as well as generating other global warming emissions. At every stage of the fracking process there are methane leaks, and methane is more than 30 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. I am even more worried about the water table

We already have enough problems with the water table which I believe are directly linked with the high rate of cancer in Ireland. The water table has been poisoned in many areas and the incidence of cancer is on the increase. The rate in Ireland is five times that in Italy. The water table presents a serious problem and fracking would only add to it.

The people who say fracking is not dangerous stand to profit from it, more often than not. A serious amount of research says otherwise. I appeal to the Minister to think seriously before even dreaming of allowing fracking to commence in Ireland. It is a no-brainer.

Deputy Alex White:  There is no prospect of there being any developments in this area for quite some considerable time. The Environmental Protection Agency commissioned study is under way. It will not report before the middle of 2016. I would have thought that at that stage we would require a significant period either for me or whoever has the honour of being in this position as Minister to review and consider the matter then, as well as debate it in the House.

Mick Wallace:  We have a big problem in politics in how we make decisions, because we work from one election to the next. On top of that, we have an extra-large problem when it comes to addressing climate change in that none of us sees it as directing us in the near future. We do not feel it will affect us in the near future and that is a problem for us.

It is an attitude that has hampered progress. The Minister pointed out that he might not be in this role in the next Government. However, he has an opportunity now to leave his mark. The country is screaming out for someone to take up a position, which the Minister can do, of saying it is about time we took climate change seriously. If he has read Naomi Klein's book, This Changes Everything, the Minister will know its contents are frightening. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill the Government is introducing is a pittance and does not address the problems we are facing in the long term. Sadly, too much of our decision-making is short-termist. We struggle to make plans for the long term whenever doing so will cost money…”

Mick Wallace

Good health is a result of proper nutrition and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment version for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to remember about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood pressure medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may turn on erectile disfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

namaleaks

THE TRUTH IS COMING....

Namaleaks is a project that seeks to uncover possible injustice and poor practice related to NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and financial institutions in Ireland.

VISIT THE WEBSITE

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