‘UNPRECEDENTED IMPACT ON OUR SMALL NATION’ Behan in call for NAMA referendum
DEPUTY JOE BEHAN expressed his misgivings on NAMA in the Dail, in a recent speech to the floor, calling for a referendum and describing the legislation as ‘unprecedented both in its scope and potential impact on our small nation.’
He said that the people of Ireland, at the very least, should be ‘given an opportunity to express their opinion by way of a referendum. It is ironic that we don’t trust the people with decisions of this magnitude. Is it any wonder that people no longer trust the politicians?’
He said that in his 25 years as a public representative, few issues had caused him such deep concern.
‘As a parent, teacher, public representative I have made decisions which affected the lives of others. I have always taken this responsibility seriously and that is why I have listened carefully to all sides of the debate on this issue both inside and outside this House,’ said Deputy Behan.
He said that people are being asked to ‘shoulder an enormous burden.’
He raised a number of concerns, including the future exposure by taxpayers in the event of any rise in the ECB interest rate. ‘Will an increase rate affect our ability to repay our debt and how can we quantify the pressure that this will put on our already overburdened exchequer funds?
‘Why is NAMA paying €9bn for the rolled up interest of the developers’ loans?’ He continued. ‘It appears to me that recycled and rolled over debt is currently a major problem in the world financial crisis and threatens to derail much of the mitigating measures already in place. Is this the case and if so how are we going to deal with this further threat?’
Deputy Behan said that banks should accept a higher element of risk for the loans to show their gratitude. ‘Could I be so bold as to suggest to the Minister not to be so na?ve as to expect gratitude from institutions whose only raison d’etre is the bottom line and who have no concept of the common good.
‘I am convinced that we are paying too much for these loans.
‘Having listened carefully to many commentators, I believe that the market value of the assets is less than stated. I believe the provision for long term economic value is too generous and I believe that forecasts for recovery are too optimistic.’
He concluded, however, by remarking that the vast majority of bank employees are just as much victims of the misdeeds of the senior management in their institutions as others. ‘ It is wrong to take out our
frus- trations on ordinary bank staff, who are trying to make ends meet like the rest of us and who had no hand, act or part in the disgraceful conduct of their bosses.
‘I ask today what assurances will the Minister provide to those ordinary bank staff members that they will not be victimised for actions not of their doing?’ ‘The more I hear about it (NAMA) the less I like it,’ remarked