‘UN­PRECE­DENTED IM­PACT ON OUR SMALL NA­TION’ Be­han in call for NAMA ref­er­en­dum

Bray People - - NEWS - Mary FOG­A­RTY

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

the TD.

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