Shane Ross

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Drink Driving – The Facts

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Archive for May, 2005

The “Aviation Action Plan” is PR spin; a Political Solution to an Economic Problem

There were two driving forces in this great aviation debate. It all very well to speak about great strategic interests, visionary decisions, long-term key directions and even to straddle the ideological divide between the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil. Good financial and economic arguments have been made on both sides but the two motivating forces in this debate were purely political. (more…)

Transparency and the Semi-States

Aer Rianta is a semi-State body that has gone walkabout. Who is in charge? The outgoing board is under threat and is a lame duck. The Minister for Transport is apparently introducing a plan which does not have the support of the Taoiseach. A letter from the leader of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to the Cabinet immediately caused a delay. The plan itself appears to be of dubious business value, but we cannot judge because we have not seen it.
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Sellafield Affects Northern Ireland and Republic Alike

Today the Seanad debated a Government motion on Sellafield. I am delighted this motion has been proposed because I have been tabling motions on Sellafield for a very long time in a similar, but perhaps not quite so detailed, manner.

No matter how many times motions are tabled regarding Sellafield and the danger it poses to Ireland they have little effect, and this is one of the many failures of both Houses. The Government has great and good intentions in putting forward this motion, but the end result will be the same as the motions I previously proposed and the court cases and confrontations between the Irish and British Governments with regard to the issue. (more…)

Revenue Clampdown on Consumers while Institutions don’t Suffer!

Next week the Revenue will begin a major investigation into undisclosed funds invested in life assurance products.

What will occur on Monday, 23 May, is now on everyone’s mind for it is on the radio every morning. Innocent people were seduced into taking out policies or doing something unawares and have been penalised in the most extraordinarily unfair way when those who seduced them are not being prosecuted.

This is a problem which we could usefully address in a debate in the House. We could have a Minister here to tell us why the Government has not taken action against these institutions while poor people who have done wrong have had to pay fines of five or six times the original sum.

What will the European Constitution do for Ireland?

By definition, the benefits of the European Union are historical. For Ireland, membership has undoubtedly been tremendously beneficial and useful. The evidence suggests that the efforts to make a political union have been extremely successful.

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It is easy to be emotionally pro-European for the reasons I outlined. However, it is difficult to be honest about the reasons for the sluggishness of the European economy. I do not know the answer. It must be possible to ask whether the European Union is a factor in this. (more…)

Sellafield a Blot on Anglo-Irish Relations

The British Prime Minister made a speech on nuclear waste and nuclear energy last night. In the height of arrogance in dealing with the Irish Republic, he decided to approve another generation of nuclear plants in the United Kingdom.

This morning the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, made the same noises I have heard for the past ten to 15 years about protesting about Sellafield and taking a case to the European court of this and that. The British are laughing at us on this issue and the Government seems to have decided nothing can be done. Ireland has a vital interest in the dangers of waste in the Irish Sea and a possible serious explosion. (more…)

The Pensions Board is Sick and Sleepy – Fire Them!

The Pensions Board is a pretty sick, inadequate body. We have a problem currently with pensions because we have a fairly sleepy Pensions Board. The board is made up of political appointees who represent various vested interests in the pensions industry. They are the last people who should be on the Pensions Board. The pensions industry is a sick and greedy honeypot. It involves a mountain of money in which people have had their greasy paws for a long time, and they do not wish to remove them.

The Pensions Board is a failure because the members want to maintain that situation without change. The first thing the Minister should do is fire them, because they have vested interests. The board is fundamentally flawed and has failed. (more…)

Marginal North Dublin Seats Deciding the Future of Dublin Airport

A serious aspect of this matter is that what is happening is unknown to Members of this House. We should debate this issue now and not next week or the week after when a deal has been cooked up between politicians, trade unions and other businesses. If we debate this after an agreement is made we will be talking to an empty audience because we will not be able to affect it.

I ask the Leader to request the Taoiseach to come to this House, debate the issue and answer questions about what is happening. Other Senators would also welcome such a debate. The Taoiseach is pulling the strings on the Aer Rianta-Aer Lingus deal. We should not have statements because everyone in this house knows that statements are a cop-out. (more…)

Benchmarking is a Cosmetic Way of Doubling Public Service Pay

Public service pay should be debated. There is another benchmarking deal due in 2007. This will be a serious issue because it will be thrust upon us once again without debate. The House should have a debate on benchmarking before the event, rather than afterwards.

We have never had a debate in advance of the benchmarking deals.

The issue is also important because there is a serious problem in the public service at the present time around benchmarking. The problem arises because certain public servants have not delivered on the performance targets that were set under the previous agreement. I call on the Minister for Finance to come into the House to tell us whether the performance targets agreed under benchmarking have been met by anybody in the public service. I suggest that benchmarking is a facade and a cosmetic way to pay the public service twice as much as the private sector.