White Welcomes the European Investment Bank Commitment to Provide EUR 90m for UCD Campus Redevelopment

November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Deputy Alex White has welcomed the support of the European Investment Bank in agreeing to fund redevelopments at University College Dublin as part of the government’s strategic support for the knowledge economy inIreland. The European Union’s long-term lending institution will provide a EUR 90m loan for the on-going transformation of campus facilities.

Commenting on this progressive development Deputy White said “The Government is committed to ensuring, where possible, that world class education and research facilities can help future generations contribute to the knowledge economy. The redevelopment of University College Dublin is an exciting development and will benefit students studying on a modern, vibrant and sustainable campus and foster a greater contribution to Ireland’s future.

“UCD’s Belfield Campus is one of the finest university facilities in Europe and a central driver of the greater Dublin South economy. Funding will be used to develop six buildings including the second phase of UCD’s Science Centre, construction of a new School of Law and refurbishment and construction of student accommodation.”

The UCD Campus Development Plan 2010–2015 will make the campus more compact, concentrating related activities and separating academic and leisure functions. The overall redevelopment aims to consolidate and enhance this position of pre-eminence by providing future generations with a sustainable, healthy, and living campus.

Development of the campus follows the Government’s efforts to increase investment in research and higher education, and will strengthen UCD’s role in an increasingly competitive academic environment. Deputy White commented that ‘the ability to locate both industry and academia on the same campus will help increase links between the university and key Irish companies’.

The new campus development will combine refurbishment of existing award winning buildings and provision of new facilities.

Up to 100 new Dublin South jobs to be created in government-supported start-up companies

August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Deputy Alex White today welcomed Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton’s announcement that up to 100 jobs will be created over the next three years in five new high potential start-up companies to be located in the south Dublin area. These businesses have been supported by the government through Enterprise Ireland in the second quarter of 2011. The announcement follows on from the 310 new jobs announced earlier this year as part of the Q1 results of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start Ups programme.

Welcoming the announcement, Deputy White said

“If we are to rebuild the economy and create the jobs of the future, we must ensure that more High Potential start-up businesses can establish and expand here. An indigenous engine of economic growth is vital to the successful future we all want for Ireland.”

For more information on the announcement, please click here

Re-negotiation of EU/IMF programme is a process, not a single event.

May 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Dáil debated the revised EU/IMF programme this week, in advance of the publication next Tuesday of the Jobs Initiative. The debate was good, if a little surreal at times, with some people appearing to believe that we can wish away our problems. This is going to take a lot of time and effort. It is nothing short of the biggest challenge ever faced by an Irish government and people. Some real changes have been made in the bailout programme. I believe that more changes will follow through patient and dogged negotiation. Re-negotiation is a process, not a single event. How we get out of the terrible bind we are in will dominate our politics and public life for years to come. This is some of what I said in the Dail today:

I detect from Deputy Calleary and some of his colleagues mounting frustration over the extent to which Members on the Government side and, perhaps, public commentators argue that policies promulgated by the previous Government are at the heart of our problems. But that argument is unanswerable. I will not repeat it; suffice it to say it goes way beyond the normal rhetoric people somewhat cynically expect from any new Government, the kind that every new Government allows itself to indulge for a few weeks or months.

What happened over the past 12 to 15 months and also the past 12 to 15 years has created a legacy not only of incompetence but also of manifestly failed policies. These were then matched with even worse failure in the attempt to reverse the effects of the decisions that were made. We have discovered that every decision made from the guarantee onwards was not only substantially wrong in itself, but actually had the effect of reducing the options the Government would have available subsequently in seeking to rectify what had been done. This was the case right up the bailout. Yesterday Deputy Michael McGrath said that before Christmas the then Opposition parties described the bailout as an “obscenity” and a “disaster” and stated those parties are not saying that now they are in government.

Not so. In truth, it remains the case that what was done constituted an obscenity and a disaster.

There is no use in criticising people for using the word “straitjacket”, which is not a word discovered only after the election. I distinctly remember the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, using it prior to the election when assessing what had been done in respect of the bailout and agreement. I remember using the term myself. We stated the bailout would constitute an enormous constraint on the economic independence of the country for years. Deputy Brian Lenihan, who was Minister for Finance, told me in the Seanad that he had written the next four budgets for this country. He was revelling in this. Let me quote him almost exactly verbatim: “I have written the budgets for the next four years in this country and you will depart from them at your peril.” He did not tell us at that stage what he told us later, namely, that he was not actually holding the pen when writing those budgets, and that the budgets and economic decision-making were being done outside the country. That government surrendered the economic independence of the country on key budgetary and economic issues in the course of the bailout they entered into.

The new Government is criticised for embracing the bailout in a manner that suggests we think it is a good thing. This is not the case at all. What the Government must do is live in the real world. That is what it is doing in addition to setting up a track of renegotiation, pursuing changes in the agreement and seriously raising the question of burden-sharing. The government was told that burden-sharing would not be countenanced by the European Central Bank, or our “Frankfurt masters” as Deputy O’Dea described them yesterday, but it pushed it in a robust way. By the way, whose fault is it that we have “Frankfurt masters”? We will have to return to the issue of burden sharing because the level of debt is not sustainable in the medium to longer term. This is my personal view from what I observe and read. The debt will not be sustainable without serious concessions, be it through restructuring of the interest rate or the payback time or otherwise.

Addressing this is the challenge the Government is confronting. But the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, is absolutely correct in saying that it was never believed this would be a “sprint” or that renegotiation could take place in 24 hours, and that everything would be delivered. It is a marathon not a sprint. Deputy Donnelly made the fair point that we should put together a team and work together – we should get going on this – but prolonged engagement in the rhetoric that the Government parties are “acquiescing” in the bailout, as suggested by some Opposition parties, is not beneficial. Living in the real world is what we are doing. In addition to keeping gardaí, nurses and others paid and the State functioning, we are turning our attention to bringing about serious change and surmounting the problems we face.

There are three broad areas we must address.

First, we must address how we reached the current position, and we can do this through committees of the House or the banking inquiry mentioned by Deputy Dara Calleary, on which the Government has started the ball rolling. Second, how do we get out of this situation? The Government is turning its attention to this question. I heard two colleagues describe the jobs initiative to be introduced next week as a damp squib. I could not describe anything I have not seen as a damp squib. Deputy Willie O’Dea said he thought it would be, but, to be fair to him, he said he hoped it would not, which is something. Let us wait and see next Tuesday.

The third issue is how to ensure we never return to this position. That is a challenge for the Government which is also being addressed, whether it is through a change in the way the Houses operate and scrutinise business, or wider reform including constitutional change. All of the areas the Government has indicated it intends to pursue will be addressed.

The notion has been put forth by some Sinn Féin Members that the Government has comfortably slipped into the chair of governing and decided that this deal is wonderful and that it will just sit back. That is not the position and I do not believe Deputy Pearse Doherty really believes it is. However, his position appears to be reduced to the following proposition, that if we remove Deputies Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, whom Deputy Dara Calleary has fairly indicated are very experienced people, from the negotiating table in Frankfurt and replace them with Deputies Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald or Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, the great Sinn Fein negotiating skills will be of such strength and power that they will overwhelm the ECB and the European institutions and that when they return from Frankfurt 24 hours later, everything will be grand. The proposition with which the Deputy has sought to persuade the House on more than one occasion is that the Government lacks negotiating skills and that its members should take a crash course from Sinn Féin on negotiating. I thought he was joking, but his face was serious. The party would want to do better than that. I have no wish to offend anybody, but Sinn Féin had leverage in the negotiations that took place ten or more years ago which presumably is not available to it now.

Let us have a serious debate instead of this nonsense, whereby people think we can wish something away. Every time Deputy Mary Lou McDonald stands to speak, she seeks a vote on this issue. Will voting make the problems go away? She wants to see the Labour Party Members walk through the lobbies, the same lobbies her party’s Members walked through to support the bank guarantee in September 2008. They now say they had to do it to maintain money in the ATM machines. It is a new found interest in ATM machines. If we were to pursue the policies advocated by Sinn Féin in recent months, that we should turn our backs and tell the ECB to shove it, there would be nothing in ATM machines.

Jobs Boost For Dundrum Is Vote Of Confidence In Local Economy

May 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Labour TD for Dublin South Alex White has called today’s announcement of 300 new jobs for Dundrum Town Centre “highly significant”.

Deputy White said: “This is a vote of confidence not only in Dundrum Town Centre, but in the local economy and in the surrounding area.  Dublin South, like everywhere else, has been hit hard by the downturn.  Between 2006 and 2010, the live register had tripled in size in the locality.  I thoroughly welcome this investment from both international and Irish companies.

“This government’s priority is to achieve growth and create jobs. I will continue to support and encourage what is necessary to create the right business environment, so that announcements like these will become a more frequent occurrence.

One Ireland: Jobs, Reform, Fairness

February 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

“The election that will take place two weeks from today will set the direction in Ireland for the next two decades. At this election, we must, all of us, ask the question: where do we want to take our country. It is a question for each of us, but one that we can only answer together. Le Cheile, as One Ireland.” Eamon Gilmore, Leader of the Labour Party

We launched our Manifesto at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin early this morning. The 89-page document is split into the three themes of our election campaign: Jobs, Reform and Fairness.

The party is committed to providing a detailed plan to get people back to work and to create a modern, outward looking economy. The manifesto sets out how we would fix what is a broken democratic and governmental system. It also commits the party to a basic threshold of decency – a bottom line below which nobodyshould fall.

If ever there was a time to adopt the 100+ proposals contained in the 2011 manifesto, now is the time. We cannot become an insular, conservative-thinking country. Labour believes that Ireland’s best days are yet to come.

To download and read the Manifesto, visit http://labr.ie/manifesto11

Alex on Morning Ireland

February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

I was interviewed on yesterday’s edition of Morning Ireland to discuss Labour’s Plan for Enterprise, Innovation and Growth, released on Sunday.

Also on to discuss jobs were Leo Varadkar TD, Fine Gael and Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fail.

Click here to listen to it again.

If Cowen did not ask Fitzpatrick about Anglo, why not?

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

The issue of easy access has been raised as a concern for people in recent days, due to revelations regarding the Taoiseach’s golf outing with Sean Fitzpatrick. I agree that easy access is a question of some concern, but while it is important I do not agree it is the most important issue. For months and months in 2008 there must have been exchanges and contact between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance, the Central Bank, the regulator and Anglo Irish Bank.

It would be extraordinary if such contacts were not made. We know that as early as March 2008 the bank was sliding. Even though I am very critical of the Government I cannot believe there was no contact about it. We know the Taoiseach took a phone call on the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. There are many questions concerning whether he followed up on that. He said he would raise the issue with the Central Bank. Did he ask the Central Bank or the regulator after the meeting on 21 March what happened at the meeting? He must have taken an interest. It would be a dereliction of duty if he did not. Fianna Fáil sometimes seem to think that an independent regulatory system is a way of hiding away from making decisions. It is not; having independent regulators is an important, prudent way of doing business. It is not an excuse for the Government to say it has nothing to do with it.

For months in 2008 there must have been contacts. It points to the real failure of the Houses to have a genuinely robust examination of what the Government was doing and saying, what inquiries it made and what concerns it expressed to the regulator and the Central Bank throughout 2008. The issue I have in regard to the golf outing is not easy access, which is wrong and should be criticised. Why, as Deputy Pat Rabbitte said recent days, is it believable that the Taoiseach, who spent a day with the head of a bank that was going down the toilet in July 2008, would not ask him a question on how things were? It beggars belief. If he did not ask him, why not? He must have asked him. The Taoiseach and the Government must have known what other people could see was happening in 2008. I do not buy the contention that nothing was said throughout the period in question. I would be critical of the Taoiseach and Government if nothing was said. Something must have been said. Those questions deserve to be answered.

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