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One of the key issues is the extension of the insurance compensation fund to deal with losses of the Quinn family. A large percentage of insurance losses result from speculative gambling on the property market by the family and, in effect, the legislation provides for the transfer of those gambling debts on to the shoulders of hard pressed taxpayers and working people who need to insure cars, homes and so on. As previous speakers pointed out, this is the third time a private company has been bailed out by the State — Equitable Life in the 1960s and PMPA and ICI in the 1980s. The original levy was not discontinued when PMPA’s historical liabilities were run down but, instead, was replaced with a stamp duty to which the Government proposes to add a Quinn Insurance levy. Clearly, that is a disgrace and should be condemned by all.

I would like to concentrate on one aspect of the legislation. It proposes that the insurance compensation fund would cover all insured risk in the State with the exception of a number of excluded risks. It then defines one of those as a risk relating to a building in the State. Will the Minister address the Homebond issue in this regard? He may be aware that householders will take to the streets tomorrow to protest outside Homebond’s offices because it has opted out of its liability under a structural guarantee against major defects and has said it will not honour offers made to residents in that regard. Is this an insurance policy or not, given it was sold to people on that basis? Were people tricked into taking up this policy? Payments come out of the insurance compensation fund for insolvent insurers and, therefore, this issue is relevant.

People bought their houses in the belief that Homebond offered them a structural guarantee against major structural defects for ten years. The homeowner had no choice in that regard as he or she was obligated to go down that route. He or she did not have the option of choosing the insurance route. It was provided to the developer and the Irish Home Builders Association. It is a consequence of the light touch regulation that existed. The banks legitimised Homebond by mandating that people to whom they were giving loans had to have a Homebond guarantee before they were able to avail of the mortgage. Warnings were issued repeatedly from 2000 onwards that the company was significantly underinsured. The Law Society issued a warning in 2000 while Grant Thornton and others produced reports in which they warned the society that this was a potential major liability, yet nothing was done.

I would like the Minister to address this because between 30,000 and 50,000 houses have fallen victim to heave inducing pyrite, a defect that costs between €40,000 and €50,000 per household to repair. A claim would result in a liability of between €1 billion and €1.5 billion. If Homebond is deemed to be insolvent and the pre-2008 insured members are deemed liable for heave inducing pyrite resulting in major structural damage, who will pay the bill? Is the Minister exposing the State by bringing this under the insolvent insurers scheme? If not, why not? He can offer a compensation fund to Sean Quinn and his family to defray their gambling debts but the victims of Homebond who did nothing other than a buy a home in good faith that they thought was fit for purpose have to pay the cost of heave inducing pyrite. There is no compensation fund for them.

This more than anything else exposes the Government’s record and the double standards it is applying. The Minister is rushing this legislation and that is not on. It will be exposed in the eyes of the public for what it is. full debate

Environment

Following the recent successful national organising forum of the Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes scores of public meetings are being organised in communities up and down the country.

In North County Dublin the follow meetings are scheduled to take place in the coming days and weeks:

Thursday 22nd- Murray’s, Lusk at 8pm
Monday 26th- Joe May’s, Skerries 8pm
Monday 26th- Lord Mayors in Swords 8pm
Tuesday 27th Saint Sylvester’s GAA club, Malahide 8pm
Wednesday 28th The Strand, Main Street, Rush 8pm
Thursday 29th Combined Clubs Community Centre, Balbriggan 8pm
Monday 10th St Finian’s Rivervalley Community Centre, Swords 8pm

Further meetings will take place in Kinsealy, Portmarnock, Baldoyle and Howth ensuring that in advance of the charnge being implemented in January there will be an extensive network of activists organised to step up the campaign of non-payment.

Successful Anti Water Charges campaign of 90s will be repeated

Clare Daly TD, who will be addressing many of the meetings said:

“Residents in North County Dublin have a track record of resisting unfair local taxes going back to the time of the victorious campaign against the water charges in the 1990s.

“Despite Minister Hogan’s pleading that the charge will be ‘only’ €100 there are firm indications from the EU/IMF memorandum of understanding and government economic advisers like John Fitzgerald that the combined water and property tax will exceed €1,000 by 2014.

“I would encourage all residents in North County Dublin to come to the meeting and play an active role in building the campaign.”

Economy, Environment

National Organising Forum of Campaign to take place next Saturday at 1:30pm in Teacher’s Club in 36 Parnell Square

“Minister Phil Hogan’s statement yesterday that people will ‘pay through the nose’ for water is a true indication of what ordinary people will be faced with in a short few years if the government gets its way.

“Despite his other utterances about the recently announced Household Charge being ‘only €100’ people well understand that as we seen with the bin tax this is but a first stage of what ESRI economist John Fitzgerald estimates will be combined water and property taxes of over €1,000 per annum.

“Early indications from street stalls activities and door to door canvases by activists in communities alongside opinion polls show deep opposition in society to these charges and a widespread willingness to engage in an active boycott campaign.

“A number of left political groups, residents associations and ordinary community and trade union activists have initiated the Campaign Against Household & Water Taxes. We see ourselves building a mass campaign of non-payment throughout the country in the same tradition as the successful Anti Water Charges Campaign of the 1990s.

“Already some 80 to 100 public meetings are being planned for every community in Dublin and city and county. This Saturday’s National Organising Forum is intended to equip people who want to fight the charge from across the country with the know-how for building campaigns of non-payment in their community. Anybody who wants to fight this charge is welcome to attend.

“Before this unjust Household Charge is implemented in January there will be in place a visible campaign capable of getting information into the communities and responding to every threat that comes from the government to bully people into payment.

It is well understood by many working people and the unemployed that this charge is simply another austerity measure at the behest of the EU/IMF which won’t boost the services provided by our local authorities. People are at breaking point and the Household Charge alongside other cuts and impositions will provoke an inevitable fightback.”

Economy

Responding to the interview today given by Minister Leo Varadkar where he described the government’s minority stake in Aer Lingus as ‘non strategic’ and indicated that it would be sold off Socialist Party TD and former Aer Lingus employee Clare Daly said:

“Given the catastrophic decline in private sector investment since the crisis began deputy Varadkar turns reality on its head when he describes that state’s strategic interest in Aer Lingus as a thing of the past.

Final sell off must be opposed

“In truth all government assets should be viewed as strategic from the point of view of preserving and improving infrastructure and services as well as providing employment. If anything the national debate should centre on how through public works and expanding state enterprises we can create the tens of thousands of jobs that the private sector refuses to create because of its investment strike.

“Privatisation has been a disaster for Aer Lingus and Eircom employees and for Irish society. I support my colleagues in Aer Lingus resisting any attempt to complete the sell off of a vital asset for our island economy. Likewise I offer my solidarity to ESB workers who are currently the target of a vile campaign from certain quarters of the media who are cynically trying to engender a mood in society for an ateality on its head when he describes that state’s strategic interest in Aer Lingus as a thing of the past.