Contribution to the Promissory Notes Arrangement: Motion – Wednesday, 13th February 2013

February 14th, 2013 - Pat Breen

Deputy Pat Breen: I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. The promissory notes deal announced last week is a significant step in the right direction for the country’s recovery. While it is not the cure for all our ills, it is a major step forward on the road to recovery. The deal has vindicated this Government’s strategy of negotiation and put us back where we should be among the top with our EU colleagues, which is extremely important. I acknowledge the role played by the Minister for Finance and his officials who worked day and night to achieve this deal, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and all the Ministers and officials. I also acknowledge the hard work done by the chairman of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, to bring about this successful outcome. The Minister for Finance made many good friends in Europe since he became Minister and that was extremely important in securing the deal.

History shows us that the manner in which a country deals with a banking crisis is pivotal to its economic recovery. In the US, the management of the 1933 banking crisis by the Roosevelt administration is widely credited with solidifying the US economic system. In time, I believe the same recognition will be given to our Administration for the work it has done in dealing with the banking crisis. As chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have seen how Ireland’s international credibility has grown in stature over the past two years and I acknowledge and thank our embassies and consulates abroad for the significant work they have done in restoring Ireland’s reputation.

Not even crocodile tears will be shed for the demise of Anglo Irish Bank because this is a bank that almost sank our country. The real victims of this sorry saga are the ordinary people and families the length and breadth of the country who have struggled to survive or been forced to emigrate. The Government’s twin-track approach to dealing with our bank legacy debt is now paying dividends and our fiscal approach to managing our finances is also paying dividends. We have met our fiscal targets, our tax revenues increased by 5.3% last year and foreign direct investment has started to flow back into the country again. The agreement copper-fastens this renewed investor confidence in the country. Recent comments from Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s further boost our prospects for attracting foreign direct investment projects to locate here.

What is crucially important is that we have the money to invest in tackling our unemployment levels, which remain stubbornly high. The Government inherited a situation in which more than 250,000 jobs were lost in the private sector from March 2008 to March 2011. While there was a net increase in the number of jobs created by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland last year, the shortfall in construction jobs, particularly for our young people, continues to pose a real challenge for the country. A return to markets would allow us to invest in further job stimulus measures. There are many projects in my county that need to be started. A new school is required in Sixmilebridge and I know much progress has been made in that regard. A total of 81 new pupils will start there in September. Ennistymon and CBS Ennis all need these projects, which are extremely important because we invest in these school projects all over the country not just in my constituency. We will also see improvements in education facilities for children and will create much needed construction jobs in our communities that are very important. Investment in key infrastructural projects is also critical to breaking the cycle of unemployment. I am thinking of the Tuam to Gort bypass that, if completed, would open up access to the west of Ireland and Shannon Airport. I welcome the deal done by this Government and think it was a great day for the country last week.