Shane Ross

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Archive for January, 2006

Open the Gates: Government U-turns on the M50

Only a year ago the Taoiseach said the toll plaza would not be bought out, that the State could not afford it. It would be very useful to have a debate on that U-turn and why it happened. It would also be useful to look at the history of this contract. I will not give a history lesson but Fianna Fáil should stop rewriting history. It keeps saying it was a coalition Government that produced this contract but it was signed by two very well known people, Mr. Pádraig Flynn, who could not wait to sign it —and Mr. George Redmond who also could not wait to sign it. (more…)

Open the Gates: Westlink toll plaza to be abolished!

I’m delighted that the Government has decided to tackle the Westlink chaos, after a year of pressure from the Westlink Action Group. But plenty of problems remain. We need the barriers to be raised at peak times, and for buyout plans to be brought forward, so that motorists don’t wait another three years in Westlink traffic jams.

The Taoiseach himself has said that at times the M50 resembles a car park. Now that the Government has decided to act, the toll plaza needs to be removed as soon as possible. As founder of WAG, the Westlink Action Group, I will continue the campaign for motorists against the crazy delays on Dublin’s ring road.

There are lessons to be learnt from the Westlink fiasco. If the Government is determined to toll Irish motorists in order to deliver world class infrastructure, the tolling arrangements must be arranged to deliver value and accountability for the toll- and tax-paying public.

US Companies, not Irish Pay Deals, Underpin the Boom

That is what I argued in the Seanad today. However, some Senators prefer the arguments to be boiled down to the simplistic “Boston vs Berlin” argument, as these excerpts reveal:

Mr. Ross: It is difficult to say “thank you” to the United States, and it is not necessary to do so. However, it is necessary to acknowledge that without the entry of American companies in the economy, the boom would not have occurred. That is the principal explanation for the Irish economy outstripping its European colleagues so obviously and consistently. I am a little more simplistic than academics such as Senator Mansergh—— (more…)

Noam Chomsky Delivers Annual Amnesty TCD Lecture

Described by The New Yorker as ‘one of the greatest minds of the 20th century’, Noam Chomsky gave the 2006 Amnesty International Lecture in association with TCD in the RDS on January 18th. The theme of his talk was ‘The War on Terror’. (more…)

The Problem of Northern Ireland is Developing into a Problem of Crime

In the Seanad, I called for a debate on Northern Ireland. The problem of Northern Ireland is developing into a problem of crime. Out of the recent welcome outbreak of peace has sprung an incredible amount of cross-Border racketeering, money laundering and co-operation among the former criminals who have committed violent acts and who have diverted their energy into criminal activities of a different sort.

The Seanad should recognise the scale of that and not brush it under the carpet. I refer to pubs, hotels, bookmakers’ shops, cash businesses — diesel, springing up all over Ireland on both sides of the Border. If we ignore this we do so at our peril. I hope there is no consent or turning of a blind eye to such activities among officials of the Irish establishment.

Cartels in the Motor Industry: What is the Competition Authority Doing?

I was a participant in the “Prime Time” programme which was broadcast recently and I was staggered by the evidence of a cartel operating in the car industry.

While the price fixing in that industry is bad enough, it has been suspected for a long time. However, the additional operation of a system of enforcement among these car dealers may not have been noticed or highlighted quite so obviously. (more…)