Shane Ross

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Archive for February, 2007

So What has the Cabinet’s Clown Prince Really Bought for us with our €600m?

Back in 1987 Minister for Transport Martin Cullen’s predecessor, Padraig Flynn, sold a small – but pivotal – piece of land to National Toll Roads for €14m (in today’s terms). Last Tuesday, Martin bought it back for €600m which we will pay in annual instalments of €50m. The final figure will be nearer to a billion, when the cost-of-living clause is invoked by NTR.

So how did the Cabinet’s Clown Prince spin this humiliation into victory? Martin Cullen turned down RTE’s invitation to debate the deal with me on Morning Ireland last Wednesday (listen here). I appeared first and the Minister, in accordance with his demands, responded alone in studio.

Trinity Beat Oxford in Climate Change Debate

At the annual Student Economic Review (SER) Oxbridge debate this week, Trinity succeeded in overcoming a powerful Oxford team. The motion for the debate was “This house believes that the rich world must face its environmental responsibilities.”

Chairman Prof Dermot McAleese congratulated both teams for such a high calibre debate, noting in particular the contributions from winning Trinity teammates Edward Gaffney and Gilbert Pooley. Best speaker for the night went to Séin Ó Muineacháin, making it a clean sweep for Trinity.

Hist Wins Irish Times Debate

Congratulations to Trinity’s Hist team which was victorious at finals of The Irish Times Debate 2006-07. Ciaran Denny and David Boughton opposed the motion that “This house believes that a neutral Ireland cannot fulfill its global responsibilities in the 21st century.” The debate was chaired by University Chancellor Dr. Mary Robinson.

Banks Scurrilously Tapping into Tribunal Industry

If we are honest about it, the subject of tribunals is somewhat taboo in the Oireachtas and among politicians generally. All the tribunals are especially effective and laudable inquiries but they do have politicians in their sights. In discussing tribunals, we all tend to tread around them rather softly. The reality is that whereas their objective is something we share in that everyone wants to see the truth, they have lost their way.

The Unregulated, Unaccountable Anarchy of Auctioneering

FOR brass neck you have to hand it to Ireland’s auctioneers. Last week, the IPAV lobby’s chief executive Fintan McNamara revealed that commissions in the auctioneers’ cartel might have to go up. The reason? Impending hardship!

Apparently, now that house prices have flattened, auctioneers intend to compensate themselves by ripping off consumers even more than ever. They maintain that when demand slackens there is only one way of reacting: that is, to raise costs to the customer. If such a ploy is to work, they will all need to act in unison. Now, that is what some of us would call a cartel.

Semi-State Appointments must be Transparent

The Minister for Transport has announced the name of the person to be put in charge of the Dublin transportation authority and the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA). During the past 20 years, I have been among a number of Senators who proposed that the House should vet or meet anyone whose name had been put forward to sit on boards or in the chair of a semi-State body.

Regarding this particular appointment, it is strange that someone is good enough for the RPA but not good enough for Aer Lingus. There is an inconsistency that I cannot understand and it should be explained to us. We are entitled to accountability on appointments of this sort and we are not getting it. However, when I tried to get some answers in the Seanad, there were ructions:

Nurses Claim Exposes a Major Flaw in Social Partnership

I cannot understand the reluctance in both Houses of the Oireachtas to discuss the very delicate and sensitive nurses’ pay claim. The nurses should be conceded this claim, 10% or not, because they deserve it for good and humane reasons and because the market will demand the claim be conceded sooner or later.

Why did I join the Auctioneers? To Expose Them!

Some time ago, the Independent Senators tabled a motion which was agreed by the House and which resulted in a commission on auctioneering being established. Today in the Seanad, I asked why nothing has yet happened. I also explained to a roudy house why it was I became an auctioneer.

Sean Quinn: We Salute You!

State monopolies are on the run.

It is here, in the new Ireland, that we have bred fresh business heroes such as Sean Quinn.
Last week, Sean Quinn bought Bupa in a lightning deal. He thus dealt the would-be state monopoly VHI a series of blows: