Sunday, December 21, 2008


Dodgy bankers gone, hand-guns on the way out...

The Seanad finished its Autumn / Winter session this week. It was another roller-coaster few days, culminating in the resignation of the Chairman and Chief Executive of Anglo-Irish Bank.

I was doing a lot of reading around the subject and from what I've seen nothing would surprise me about the behaviour of the bankers anymore. They seem to live in a completely different world than the rest of us. We rightly worry about the dangers of secret societies, of the spread of nepotism and cronyism in society, of corruption by some politicians, but these guys take the biscuit! We clearly need to take control of this situation. We need to get to the bottom of what's going on across the banking sector and we need to do it quickly. Without wishing to appear partial on this, these are exactly the reasons why we pushed for so many amendments to the Banking Bill a few months ago.

This week the Minister of Justice, Dermot Ahern, came into the Seanad to outline his plans for the regulation of handguns in Irish society. He proposes to re-instate the ban that existed from 1972/1973 until 4 years ago (in 2004 the ban was successfully challenged). As our Seanad Spokesperson on Crime it fell on me to make a speech.

From talking to people across all parties, as well as most of the lobby groups, I would think this ban will be re-introduced in the New Year. I read the Garda Review magazine on Saturday - they are also in favour of a ban.

I don't think the ban will be the end of the matter, though. The argument is that there's no need to provide for handgun use to be legitimised (subject to certain sporting exceptions). It's important to remember though that there has been virtually no crime by the owners. Also, handguns from legal owners are not being stolen in any great numbers. In fact, of the 1,300 guns stolen from legitimate owners in the last few years only 30 were handguns. Therefore, even with a new ban, we can still expect to see about 300 firearms a year being stolen from their owners and entering the criminal underworld. This is certainly something that needs to be tackled by the provision of more Gardai resources.

The Motor Tax Bill was also discussed in the Dail and Seanad this week, and was passed into law. As our spokesperson on the Environment I was responsible for delivering a speech on this, which was broadly in favour of the Bill - although we don't think it goes quite far enough in many areas.

This will be my last blog for 2008. Whilst I am working up to Christmas Eve, I will then be taking a short break over the Christmas period. However, if there are any issues over this time, please give me a call and we can sort something out.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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