To delay the inevitable any longer is to stick one’s finger in the eye of the public who are seething with anger about where we are and how this Government has led us to this scenario.
As far as I am concerned the blame game is over. The focus now is on how we can progress from here. The fundamental foundation of any progression will be democratic legitimacy. In the context of the enormity of what the Government is contemplating leading the country into, the fact that it does not have the democratic imprimatur of the public means it will never be accepted. It will always be a millstone around the neck of Fianna Fáil but it may well be a millstone around the neck of incoming Governments if it is not given the democratic legitimacy an election affords. Therefore, to deliver political and economic stability we need to clear the decks. We need to know that there will be a general election early in the new year. In order to get to that position we are saying to the Government that we will co-operate in terms of time provision to bring forward the finance Bill, social welfare Bill and the budget. That is eminently sensible and reasonable. I cannot understand why the Government will not accept the motion.
Woodrow Wilson, a former President of the United States, said on the occasion of the passing of the Federal Reserve Act, which I understand is the foundation stone for the American taxation system, that America was a country controlled by its credit system. He went on to say that it was no longer a government by free opinion, conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men. How applicable, regrettably, that is to where we are at as a nation. We are subject to the duress of a small group of dominant players outside of this country. The duress to which we are being subjected has never been debated or approved in a public forum. In the context of the enormity of what is being considered an election is the only way that such legitimacy can be brought about.
We are told that what is contemplated in the bailout by the IMF and the European Union cannot be renegotiated. It will be subject to quarterly reviews. We were also told it was an article of faith that the Lisbon treaty could not be renegotiated. Yet, no sooner had it been rejected in the initial referendum in this country but wheels were put in place to take on board the reservations, improve the treaty and offer greater guarantees in respect of the fears that were expressed by the Irish electorate. Ultimately, a better deal was secured. A better deal can be secured in this regard also.
I acknowledge that we must get access to funds given that we cannot do so at market rates because of the mess the Government has led us into. We need access to funds. In many respects we are fortunate that people are prepared to give us funds. It is ironic that having been good Europeans for years, the funds available from Europe come at a premium whereas the funds available from the IMF are at a more favourable rate. That sticks in the craw of many people in this House and around the country who have supported the European ideal and movement.
In respect of where we are at and the deal that has been the subject of debate earlier, last year the Government introduced a national recovery bond at 3.96% over ten years. There were soundings in the four year plan published last week about a national recovery bond. We should be in a position to take maximum advantage of the remaining capital that is held by Irish investors in Irish banks and offer them an equivalent rate to put their funds into a national recovery bond for a shorter term than the ten years originally envisaged. Ten years is too long a period not to have access to one’s funds. It should be done on a comparable basis for three, five or seven years in the same way as the various funds that are available to us in the rescue package. We should pay that rate to Irish investors and get Irish capital. That would establish a platform to which ordinary citizens of this Republic can contribute.
I am alarmed at the use of the National Pensions Reserve Fund. In effect, what we are being asked to do with our pensions reserve fund is to bail out pension fund managers across the European Union who put their pensioners’ funds into Anglo Irish Bank and other banks in the State. We have a ticking timebomb in respect of the cost of pensions. Now we have this pot plundered to the extent of €20 billion – €10 billion under this deal and €10 billion previously. No consideration has been given to that ticking timebomb, which is arising due to our demographic profile, in terms of future pension provision