Sunday, January 25, 2009

 

Is the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank Constitutional?

We were called back "early" to debate the nationalisation of Anglo-Irish bank last week. The Seanad and Dail members were all in Dublin anyway, to attend the 90th anniversary commemoration of the sitting of the first Dail.

Labour Party members met beforehand in Leinster House, and walked down en masse to the Mansion House. Myself and a few of our colleagues were surprised by the huge Garda presence. The whole street was closed off and there were scores of Gardai holding back the "crowds" of onlookers. Actually, there were probably more gardai than there were onlookers! The question of who was being protectors from whom was raised by one or two wags on the way in. Also, someone suggested that the country would have been better off if they had been deployed elsewhere in the city.

The event passed off quite quickly. There were some fine speeches made on the day, including that from Enda Kenny and from Ciaran Cannon, who I though performed very well.

I spent the afternoon catching up on correspondence and reading up about the issues in relation to Anglo Irish. By the time we came to the debate that evening the Labour Party had decided to oppose the legislation unless our amendments calling for an investigation into the actions of the bank's managers was undertaken.

Unfortunately the government failed take our amendment on board, leaving us with no option but to try to vote down the Bill. We managed to vote against it in the Dail, but when it came to calling a vote in the Seanad for some reason the Cathaoirleach, Pat Moylan, failed to spot the fact that we had called for a vote.

I tried to raise the matter as a Point of Order, asking for the House to be suspended so that the staff could check the tapes of the proceedings (which would show - and did subsequently - that a vote has been called). However,the Cathaoirleach ploughed on and so no vote was actually held on the issue on the Seanad.

Whether the bill is constitutional is now a question, one which has been raised by Senator Frances Fitzgerald in the Irish Times on Saturday. Time will tell.....

Will this be the last bit of legislation to nationalise a bank? I doubt it. I think there's a real possibility that we may have to repeat the process for another bank in the not too distant future.

Friday was a bad car day. I spent the afternoon around Rathfeigh with our local election candidate Eileen Drew. A big cause of concern is the potholes on the local roads. I took a picture of a trench running across the road. The locals were furious with the council for not fixing it, despite repeated requests.

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Eileen Drew beside a trench in Rathfeigh.

We said that we would take the issue up with the council. Just a few hours later I was coming back from a meeting in Trim and I hit a similar trench on the far side of Kentstown. Once I hit it I knew that I had done the wheels in. I managed to crawl into Kentstown and left the car there overnight. On Saturday, I arranged for a tow to a garage in Duleek and got both front types replaced at a cost of €300. It really is infuriating when this happens to you - the Council needs to get their act together in dealing with the resurfacing of local roads.

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