IRELAND MUST SHOW LEADERSHIP IN DEVELOPMENT OF COMMON REFUGEE POLICY

Fine Gael TD for Cork North West Michael Creed has this morning called on the Government, and the leadership of all political entities in Ireland, to unite behind a shared drive for a pan EU solution to the refugee crisis across Europe. Commenting on the matter Deputy Creed said;
“Ahead of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on the refugee crisis, it is now imperative that our political leaders from all Parties and Groupings set aside political and ideological differences on this matter and urge the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Government to lead the drive for a Common EU policy to comprehensively address the evolving refugee crisis
“The EU as a policy making entity has shown throughout its history, the capacity to develop monumental common policies such as the CAP and monetary Union. Now is the time to step up to potentially the greatest humanitarian crisis of this Century and take action. Ireland as a member state needs to be in the vanguard in addressing this issue, showing initiative and leadership and a willingness to contribute.
“This crisis poses potentially the most significant political threat to the stability of the EU project. The rise of ultra-nationalists at local and European elections points to an alarming trend throughout Europe. Only a coherent, comprehensive and unified approach will suffice primarily to save the thousands of lives that are at risk, but furthermore quelling the existing self-interest that prevails in many member states at present, by equating the very survival of the EU with the solution of the refugee crisis.

“Of course an international response is also required to address the larger security issues at play here. However as a member state and as national politicians we must ensure that our role can be fulfilled as effectively and comprehensively as possible”

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STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF NELSON MANDELA

Cork North West TD Michael Creed has expressed his sadness on the announcement of the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Commenting on Mandela’s passing Deputy Creed said:

“Rarely – if ever- does the entire world pause to mark the passing of just one man. It is testament to Nelson Mandela’s immeasurable legacy that his death is mourned in every corner of the planet. I was fortunate enough to meet with President Mandela in 1995 and I will forever be deeply grateful for the opportunity to come face to face with a man whose footprint will be etched in history for eternity.

“Mandela proved that a life dedicated to people can be a life well lived. In an age where those in public office are held in low esteem, Nelson Mandela will continue to be the definitive benchmark for those who hope to serve their people. May he rest in peace”.

DÁIL SPEECH ON BAILOUT EXIT

I welcome the opportunity to speak on what I think is one of the most significant motions to come before the House. If the loss of our sovereignty in 2010 was such a significant event, it is important that the Dáil has its say on the matter, and I welcome the fact that the Government Chief Whip acceded to my request for a debate on it.
It is important to put the debate in some sort of context. When the troika came to town in 2010, our banks were bust, the number of unemployed people had trebled to 450,000 from 150,000 in 2008, our tax receipts had collapsed from approximately €50 billion to €30 billion, and our international reputation was in tatters. All of those issues combined led to a loss of market confidence in the Irish economy, and in order to maintain some degree of normality, we sought outside assistance through the troika’s programme. Three years later, in a tribute to the resilience and forbearance of the Irish public, whose sacrifices have ensured the progress that has been made, our international reputation has been re-established, and I commend Deputy Costello and the Tánaiste in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the leading role they have played in that respect. All of our Cabinet representatives have equally been responsible for that restoration of our reputation, which has enabled us to renegotiate with credibility some of the worst excesses of the bailout agreement as originally foisted on us by the outgoing Government of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.
The exit from the bailout is a red-letter day, but in early 2013 we had a renegotiation of the promissory note. That represented significant progress on the liability that the Irish citizen carries as a result of this collapse. Market confidence has been restored. How else would we have accumulated a domestic backstop of around €20 billion to give us some comfort as we put our toe back in the money markets and try to fund ourselves? Of significance in the context of the sacrifices that the public have made, we have reduced the gap between what we spend on a daily basis and what we raise in taxes, and we are committed to reaching the 3% deficit target by 2015. That is the backdrop to all of this.
I am reminded of the line that the moment of absolute certainty never arrives. To be honest, I was a bit taken aback by Deputy Martin’s response last week when the Taoiseach announced the Cabinet’s decision. It seemed to me as though he were suffering from Stockholm syndrome, surrounded by former Cabinet colleagues Deputies Smith, Ó Cuív and O’Dea, as he was less than gracious about the efforts and the endeavour by ordinary citizens to get us to a stage at which we can exit the bailout. I listened this morning to Deputy Michael McGrath’s contribution – it is noticeable that not a single Member of the Opposition is in the Chamber for the debate at the moment – and while I agreed with many of his observations in respect of the context within which this exit from the bailout is taking place, there was an element of political cute-hoorism and having an each-way bet regarding the Government’s decision.
When faced with such a decision one must make it as wisely as possible. The moment of absolute certainty never arrives. Deputy Martin’s approach to this is regrettable.

In the context of this debate and as we contemplate the sustainability of our economic model, it is an appropriate time to raise the EU Summit of 29 June 2012 and ask where we are in breaking the vicious link between sovereign and bank debt. The Minister, his Cabinet colleagues, the Minister for Finance Deputy Noonan and the Taoiseach are as anxious as everybody else to build on that. However, to call a spade a spade, we have run into a cul-de-sac in our efforts to build on that. It is worth recalling that the summit statement stated:
We affirm that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns.
The Eurogroup will examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with the view of further improving the sustainability of the well-performing adjustment programme.

We are some 18 months on from that and, unfortunately, we have seen practically no tangible progress on that matter. Is it any wonder that politics stretches credulity on occasions with the public when we see that lack of progress on an issue of such enormous significance? We have pumped €64 billion into our domestic banks in an effort, originally, to stop the contagion. “Contagion” was the buzzword in 2009 and 2010 when they were fears across Europe. We were asked to take a hit for the team and we did so. It is a reasonable conclusion that we are having difficulty getting retrospective recapitalisation, although I do not want to make that conclusion. There is another way to skin the cat in respect of getting back that money for the Irish Exchequer. Our level of indebtedness is unsustainable and we need a game changer on this matter.

AIB and PTSB are State-owned and we have a 15% stake in Bank of Ireland. The Irish banks have a €70 billion tracker mortgage book on which all those banks are losing their shirts. That is somewhat akin to the €64 billion we put into our banks to comply with the terms of our bailout. It is good news for 400,000 tracker mortgage holders that last week the ECB sought to reduce its lending rate by 0.25%. That has been passed on to those 400,000 tracker mortgage holders, but at whose cost? There are reports that the 300,000 variable mortgage holders will see a commensurate increase in their repayments. That is grossly unfair.

As a way of dealing with the capital we put into our banks, is it possible to take the tracker loan book out of the three banks I mentioned by virtue of the ESM, ECB or however? PTSB has a survival strategy with the Commission. Because of the significant drain those tracker mortgages are on our banks, could we financially engineer a solution to the tracker mortgages that takes pressure off our banks and allows them to get on to the normal business of banking? It could allow the State to extricate itself from the banking business by selling its stake in banks that would be then viable and get something back for the money we have put into these banks in recent years, particularly the three I mentioned. It is grossly unsatisfactory that this issue has not been resolved yet. However, I commend the Minister and Government on their efforts in getting us to this situation where we are exiting. We have a backstop and market confidence, and we can go back to the market early next year to further build on that backstop. On balance, it is the right decision.

FIND JOESPH KONY

Question No. 56

 

Parliamentary Question – Dept Details

 To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps taken by him to assist the international endeavour to bring a person (details supplied) before the International Criminal Court; if he will raise the matter with the US authorities regarding their continued military support for this endeavour; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Michael Creed.

 

* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 21st March, 2012.

Ref No:

 15692/12

 REPLY

I am greatly concerned that Joseph Kony remains at large in Central Africa and has not been held to account for the atrocities which he and his so-called “Lord’s Resistance Army” (LRA) are reported to have committed over two decades in Northern Uganda and the wider region.

Recent publicity has raised international public awareness of the appalling violence carried out by this group over many years. In 2005,

the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Joseph Kony and other leaders of the LRA on 33 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. These are charges of the utmost gravity, and it is essential that Mr. Kony appear before the Court to answer them. We strongly support the work of the International Criminal Court in seeking to bring Mr. Kony and his collaborators to justice. Ireland, both directly and as a member of the European Union, provides ongoing support, including funding, for the Court and for its work. This year, our contribution towards the running costs of the Court will amount to some €800,000. Ireland has also made voluntary contributions to Trust Funds that support the work of the Court. Since 1995, €40 million has been provided from the EU budget to support the Court and related international criminal justice initiatives.

This month, the United Nations will convene a meeting in Uganda to finalise a comprehensive regional peacebuilding strategy which combats the activities of the LRA. The African Union has also announced a regional cooperation initiative and the US government is currently providing a number of military personnel to advise and assist national armies in the region to end the scourge of LRA violence, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. We are monitoring these initiatives closely, in cooperation with our EU partners and through our Embassy in Kampala.

Northern Uganda suffered more than any other area from the activities of the LRA in the years up to 2006, when the LRA left the area and moved into neighbouring countries. Ireland has been providing support to the people of the area for well over a decade. We have played an important role in coordinating the international donor response to the effects of war on the local population, particularly children, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. We have supported and facilitated peace talks and have ensured that the humanitarian situation in the region remains firmly on the international agenda. Between 2007 and 2010, Ireland provided over €4.4 million in humanitarian assistance for Uganda, most of which focused on the crisis in Northern Uganda.

Uganda is one of the priority countries for Ireland’s aid programme, where we have a commitment to the provision of long term strategic assistance. In 2007,

the Ugandan Government initiated a Peace, Recovery and Development Programme to coordinate all assistance for Northern Uganda, which now requires huge investment to ensure recovery from the disastrous effects of two decades of war. The Programme aims to provide additional resources for capital projects such as schools, clinics, water and sanitation facilities and roads. Through Irish Aid, we are strongly supporting the Programme and we have committed to providing some €22.5 million in funding for it over the years 2010 to 2014.

CREED CAUTIONS AGAINST SUPPORT FOR LAGARDE

 

Fine Gael TD Michael Creed has urged the Government to show caution in supporting the candidacy of Christine Lagarde as the new head of the IMF. Commenting on recent reports suggesting Ireland and the EU were supporting Lagardes candidacy Deputy Creed said:

 

“We should be very cautious in showing support for a less than sympathetic ally in the shape of Lagarde. If we have learned anything from our recent dealings with the EU and the IMF, it is that the IMF has been a far more pragmatic and understanding partner than the ECB the EU and in particular France when it comes to finding solutions to our debt crisis”.

 

“By supporting Lagarde we could be welcoming a Trojan horse into the IMF, that might further exacerbate our situation. The French Governments continued insistence that we review our corporation tax rate and their refusal to review the terms of the bailout agreement can be taken as indications as to what a Lagarde lead IMF, might be like”.

 

“Within the EU 27 we should be seeking a candidate from the smaller nations which form the Union as opposed to cheerleading the further enhancement of the influence of the larger States”.