RTÉ Six One News, last evening.
Alan Bracken writes:
Meanwhile at Leinster House – an able-bodied person taking up a wheelchair space..
Keelin Shanley and Caitriona Perry
RTÉ News today announced that Keelin Shanley and Caitriona Perry will be the new presenters of the RTÉ Six One News from January 2018.
Broadcaster Keelin Shanley who currently presents News at One on RTÉ Radio 1 and Crimecall on RTÉ One, will be joined by RTÉ’s current Washington Correspondent Caitriona Perry, as co-presenters on the flagship programme.
The current presentation team of Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ní Bheolain are moving to new presenting roles within the RTÉ newsroom. Sharon Ní Bheolain will present the Nine O’Clock News on rotation with Eileen Dunne, and remain as a presenter of Leaders Questions. She will also be the new presenter of Crimecall on RTÉ One. Bryan Dobson joins the Morning Ireland team on-air from 1 November.
Leo Varadkar and Brian Dobson on last night’s Six One
On RTÉ’s Six One.
Following his ‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ campaign…
Fine Gael TD and leadership contender Leo Varadkar spoke to Brian Dobson about people in Ireland who “want everything for free”.
From the interview…
Brian Dobson: “You said in your launch today, that Irish society cannot be split into, and I quote, one group of people who pay for everything, and another who want everything for free and think others should pay for it. Who are that latter group, who want everything for free?”
Leo Varadkar: “Well, I suppose, they’re people who do exist in Ireland, unfortunately, there is a degree of an entitlement culture. It mightn’t be many people but there are people who believe and, you know, they’re very often supporters of the far left, that believe that everything should be free. And that, you know, somehow, Apple or bondholders or somebody else should pay for it, or billionaires who don’t live in this country. And I don’t accept that culture.
“I think, I come from a very different political point of view. I think everyone who can should pay into the system and by paying into the system, we can all have a better society.”
Dobson: “So they’re people on the hard left? A pretty small group then? Would it be fair to say?”
Varadkar: “Yeah, they’re pretty small but they’re loud and they’re growing and the kind of politics they preach is the idea that we should have, you know, free education, free healthcare, free housing, free everything but you shouldn’t have to contribute to it at all. Somehow that, you know, billionaires living overseas or American corporations, that make their profits elsewhere, are going to pay for everything. I think that’s dishonest.”
“I’m bringing forward, to the table, honest, centrist politics which is that if you want to have a good society, if you want to have good public services, well then we all need to contribute to them, we all need to work hard if we can and pay into the system.”
Watch back in full here
Previously: Populist Chancer Cheats Us All
On RTÉ’s Six One.
Chairman of Nama Frank Daly was interviewed by Brian Dobson.
At the very end of the interview:
Brian Dobson: “You still say tonight, that the taxpayer got full value?”
Frank Daly: “I say, absolutely, the taxpayer got full value for money. And I say it even more strongly now in a post-Brexit environment. If we were trying to sell that portfolio now – we would not get offers anywhere near £1.32billion).”
Watch back in full here
What loss did Nama make on the Project Eagle transaction?
Depends on how you define “loss”!
The Nama projection of its ultimate profit by 2020 is €2.3billion. If it hadn’t sold Project Eagle in 2014, and worked the loads out between 2014-2020, the ultimate profit would be €2.74billion. So, the loss is €440million*.
By selling the loans in 2014, Nama did not generate £1.68billion in projected net cash receipts by 2020 on those loans. Instead, it sold the loans for £1.3billion.
So, the loss is £380m (€444m). This loss arose from two decisions (1) the decision to sell in 2014 rather than manage the loans until 2020 and (2) the decision to sell the loans below Nama’s own valuation.
On the other hand, if you compare the safe value of the loans in 2013 (£1.3billion) versus the Nama valuation of the loans in 2014 (£1.49billion), the loss is £190million (€222m).
1- Nama has until 2020 to manage its loans so as to maximise their value for the taxpayer. Nama did not have to sell the loans in 2014; it could have managed the loans until 2020, which would have resulted in the loans generating £1.68billion, according to Nama’s own projections.
2- Nama used the proceeds from the sale of Project Eagle to redeem senior bonds which have a zero (technically a minus) interest rate. Nama could have used the proceeds from the Project Eagle sale to invest in its assets, but it didn’t; Nama used the cash to pay down its own debt which cost it nothing.
Report Extracts (which emphasis added).
“In a paper submitted to the Board for the December 2013 meeting (reproduced in Appendix C) the Nama executive sought the Board’s approval for the sale of the loans. The paper indicated that the total Nama debt for the loans at the end November 2013 was £1.98 billion – equivalent to 43% of the par debt.”
“Cash flow projections indicated that Nama would realise net receipts totalling £1.68 billion over the period 2014 to 2020 if it worked out the loans through the sale of the underlying assets in line with its formal strategy.”
“The minimum price of £1.3billion set for the sale of the Project Eagle portfolio was significantly less than Nama projected it would realise from working out the loans – an estimated £1.68billion, equivalent to £1.49billion in NPV terms, using Nama’s standard discount rate.”
“The difference between the minimum price and the projected NPV of the workout was up to £190million, depending on the extent to which the adjustment of the 2017 disposal proceeds was valid.”
“As a result, the decision to sell the loans at £1.3billion involved a significant profitable loss of value to the State.”
“Ultimately, the loss incurred when the sale was completed was recognised in Nama’s financial statements for 2014.”
Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace writes:
“For too long the Minister for Finance and Taoiseach have displayed breathtaking indifference, and at times arrogance, to any form of oversight of NAMA.
The C&AG report deals with just one aspect of NAMA’s operation – if the Government want all the truth in the open, only a truly Independent Commission of Investigation has any chance of exposing just how dysfunctional this organisation has been, and what the cost has been to the people of Ireland.
Until then, the proceeds of the sale of Project Eagle should be frozen, under the ‘Proceeds of Crime Act’ and all NAMA activities should be suspended.“
Previously: Project Eagle And the €3.5billion Haircut
Peter Sutherland on RTÉ’s Six One yesterday evening
On RTÉ’s Six One, presenter Bryan Dobson spoke to Peter Sutherland.
Mr Sutherland is a
lizard former EU Commissioner for Competition Policy (1985- 1989), former Attorney General (1981-1984), former chairman of Goldman Sachs (1995-2015) , and currently the United Nations Special Representative for International Migration (since 2006).
They started off speaking about the makeshift refugee camp in Calais, following a news item about a protest having taken place there yesterday – with some locals and truck drivers calling for it to be closed down.
Mr Sutherland talked about how he had been there, how it is appalling and how 70 additional people arrive in Calais every day.
He then talked about the EU response, as a whole, to those seeking refuge in Europe and highlighted the problems a fragmented approach with different countries doing different things.
He called on EU countries to act with more solidarity in mind.
Then, Mr Dobson asked Mr Sutherland about the EU Apple tax ruling.
Grab a tay
Peter Sutherland: “Basically, the British are saying ‘yes, all of those who are in Calais want to get into the United Kingdom but they’re the responsibility of the French because they’re in France and we won’t allow them into Britain, so the French are going to have to deal with this. This creates obviously some tension but it also creates an enormous problem in Calais where people are constantly trying to get on lorries or on trains and it’s very dangerous and many of them are children.”
Bryan Dobson: “Does that, in a sense if you like, encapsulate the way this has been responded to by Europe, that individual states have been passing the buck?”
Sutherland: “Absolutely, and the greatest evidence of that is in the Mediterranean frontline states – Greece and Italy are taking all of the refugees. Everybody leaving Libya, virtually, is delivered, including by our Navy and the British Navy and the Germans to Italy and they are left with this huge number, growing number of refugees and I think this is grossly unfair. The same can be said for Greece.”
Dobson: “But, of course, what happened, the German chancellor Angela Merkel opened up the border, the German borders to invite people in, in this extraordinary gesture last year is that, politically, she’s facing a backlash now, isn’t she? And her political future is in question because the hostility of very many German people just to that policy.”
Sutherland: “It is, absolutely, but in my view she’s a heroine. She’s done something that others have not been prepared to do and virtually all the central and European countries are saying ‘absolutely no’ to refugees. Surely, if we are a community, a European Union, based with a concept of solidarity, we should share and we should share on a logical basis all the refugees.”
Mr Sutherland then went on to say Ireland should ‘do more’ and invite ‘thousands’ to Ireland.
And was asked about the Apple tax ruling.
Dobson: “The Government, you believe, have made the right decision when it decided to appeal?”
Sutherland: “Unquestionably, there was no decision that could be taken, other than to appeal. Otherwise it would be accepting an adjudication which, as I understand it, the Government absolutely contests. I mean the Government’s case appears to be that the Revenue Commissioners, not the Government made the decision on the application of the law in regard to taxation which would be applicable to everybody. It wasn’t a special deal. Now, if that is correct, it seems to me that that is not a state aid.”
Dobson: “Do you think Apple have paid their fair share of tax to whomever it’s due – Ireland, United States, other European countries?”
Sutherland: “I can’t comment on that, I mean what is a fair amount of tax? It seems a ridiculously large sum to have avoided, I don’t know. I’ve no idea, I’ve seen no papers.”
Watch back in full here
Previously: Peter’s Friends
Dr Rory Hearne, from Maynooth University, on RTE’s Six One last night
Yesterday, the Housing Agency released a report entitled the National Statement of Housing Supply and Demand 2014 and Outlook for 2015-2017.
It claimed that over 20,000 new homes per year, over the next three years, will need to be build in order to satisfy demand.
In response to this Dr Rory Hearne, a lecturer in political and economic geography at Maynooth University, spoke to Sharon Ní Bheoláin to lay out his criticisms of the report and the Irish Government’s approaching to housing in general.
Sharon Ní Bheoláin: “60,000-odd new homes over the next three years. It doesn’t sound overly ambitious but you were saying our entire approach, the entire housing provision model needs to be completely overhauled?”
Rory Hearne: “Yeah, I think if you look at the report, it analyses that there’s going to be 20,000 houses required, additional houses required, from new household formations over the coming years. But I think what’s missing in the report is a lack of ambition, a lack of appreciation of the wider housing crisis that’s there and it does identify it within the report. Issues like the mortgage crisis, the rental crisis. But, within it, it still focuses and a lot of debate focuses, on the private sector and we’ve seen the private sector developers, you know in the property industry sector coming out and looking for VAT reductions. And I think what it doesn’t analyse enough is the role in which that private model, that speculative, the home ownership, mortgage model failed, led to the cause of the crisis and a lot of people simply won’t be able to get mortgages or afford their housing. And I think what’s in it, the supply, the 20,000 units, there’s not an explanation enough: what type of units are required in that, are they social housing? Are they rental? Are they home ownership? But there’s an assumption that there’s just private development we need. Rather then looking at, I think in particular, the government could address through additional local authority housing, a lot of this demand…”
Ní Bheoláin: “OK, so this over-reliance on mortgages and private development is contributing to the various crises we hear day after day in terms of affordability, in terms of the squeeze on the rental market, that the Government really needs to start looking at building it’s own units as well.”
Hearne: “Yes, it does. It has to look at alternative housing model. The housing system in Ireland is in crisis, it’s dysfunctional and if we look at, in particular, how the Government is responding to the crisis; the use of NAMA for example, is a good example of where they have just followed the same speculative model. We see NAMA now bringing in new vulture funds to buy up residential property. In fact NAMA has enough land and residential property to develop 25,000 units over the coming three or four years. I would argue that the Government should change NAMA’s remit to actually become a housing delivery agency, focusing on need rather than…”
Ní Bheoláin: “NAMA of course was set up to deliver the best return for the taxpayer and that’s why they’re selling off massive portfolios to these big international investors.”
Hearne: “Yeah and I would argue that is a completely short-termist perspective because, while the taxpayer is getting a certain amount in return, what’s happening is we’re bringing all this property investment into the Irish market which is fuelling rents, fuelling, and the other issue is NAMA is concentrating on building offices – we don’t need more offices, we need housing units.”
Ní Bheoláin: “We need housing units, and we need smaller housing units, according to today’s report.”
Hearne: “We do need smaller housing units and that also comes to another issue of vacant properties. There’s a huge issue in particular of, and the housing need that’s identified in the report, it’s around Dublin, Cork, Galway, the big cities, there’s a huge issue of vacancy, derelict properties that need to be looked at but I think the bigger issues is our housing model in Ireland. What this report really lacks and analysis, a critical analysis and pointing to alternative solutions that are there, that could move away from…for example, if we look at Ireland. Ireland only has 9% social housing or local authority housing..”
Ní Bheoláin: “How does that compare with Europe?”
Hearne: “England, for example, has 17%, the Netherlands, 33% and this is why we’re seeing 1,000 children in emergency accommodation, we’re seeing 90,000 households on the housing list. Through the last ten years and, in particular, over austerity the budget for social housing has dropped dramatically.”
Ní Bheoláin: “And yet we had this massive housing strategy announced by the minister [for the Environment Alan Kelly] not so long ago. You seem to be very, very critical of our approach to this, the lack of creativity, innovation and joint-up thinking.”
Hearne: “Yeah I think what’s happened is the Government is over focused on the issue of the banks and developers and rather than actually looking at the housing system and what is the purpose of the housing system, it hasn’t put it together. And I would argue that in the hierarchy of the housing system, housing need, housing shelter, people’s requirement for affordable housing should be put first before the property development industry and before international finance and sorting out the banks and, in many ways, the banks have been prioritised over people. And I think as well, what has happened with the Government is that they haven’t really significantly increased invested in purchasing social housing. Within the housing strategy, three quarters of the new social housing is going to be through the new private rented sector. That’s not a sustainable model and I think that we need a radical change that would actually address housing need.”
Watch back in full here
From RTÉ One’s Six One last night
Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who is on holiday, spoke to Sharon Ní Bheoláin on RTE’s Six One last night via telephone, following the Eurostat/Irish Water/Exchequer balance sheet brouhaha.
In summary, Eurostat decided, ‘Irish Water is a non-market entity controlled by government and should be classified inside the government sector’ for five main reasons:
1. There has been ‘considerable government control’ over the body, and especially in regards to board appointments and ‘pricing parameters’.
2. Irish Water ‘merely re-organises previously non-market activity carried out by local government, with local government assets being transferred to Irish Water and a large majority of Irish Water staff remaining local government employees’.
3. There has been ‘significant and continuous government funding and support to Irish Water’.
4. A ‘lack of economically significant prices, concerning in particular the capping of fees for households’.
5. The so-called ‘50% test’ – where sales cover at least 50 per cent of the production costs over a sustained multi-year period – has not been met.
Further to this, Mr Kelly said Eurostat’s decision would make no impact at all.
Sharon Ní Bheoláin: “It’s evident that the Government has been putting a brave face on this all day long. They’re saying ‘nothing to be seen here’ but, to the man and woman watching at home, this is really the latest chapter in the omnishambles that has been Irish Water.”
Alan Kelly: “I wouldn’t agree with that at all Sharon. Straight up, this has no immediate impact because in the Spring Economic Statement, we provided for it to be on balance sheet. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t change our plans for investment, it doesn’t change the structure of Irish Water and, for that man and woman you speak about, it doesn’t change the charges system that’s in place.”
Ní Bheoláin: “No change from a budgetary point of view, minister. But a sea change from the Government’s position. It wasn’t so long ago that we heard the Tánaiste say that she was confident that the Government would pass this Eurostat test, only today, [Finance Minister] Michael Noonan saying, it was embarrassing. Now do you agree with Michael Noonan?”
Kelly: “I don’t agree with that statement. I haven’t even heard him say it to be honest, but I don’t agree with that statement. The simple fact of the matter is that there’s a number of issues which have been raised by Eurostat. The CSO will actually, I believe, be challenging some of the comments and some of the statements by Eurostat and, by the earliest opportunity, we will be looking to see this reviewed and I believe that, into the future, in 12 months time or so, this should be reviewed and looked at again and I believe it will be cause essentially I believe, in the future, it will be off balance sheet but in the short term…”
Ní Bheoláin: “Can I just…because the Eurostat…minister…”
Kelly: “This has no impact whatsoever.”
Ní Bheoláin: “The Eurostat statement is here and it’s quite stark. It talks about the lack of economically significant prices. It refers to the capping of fees, it’s quite clear that they are of the view that you priced water too cheaply.”
Kelly: “I’ve read their statement and I’ve read their statement in detail, I disagree fundamentally of course with some of the analysis and it’ll be up to us and working through the CSO to challenge that, into the future. They have said that, from a forward-looking point of view, they would look at this again and we’re going to ensure that that happens because, into the future, I believe they should be off-balance sheet but let me just repeat here: this doesn’t change anything. In the Spring Economic Statement, we provided for this. We were prudent as a Government and we provided for this in all our figures, in all our budgetary analysis, all the way out, that this would be on balance sheet…”
Ní Bheoláin: “I want to ask you minister, just before, because time is against us, what will you be bringing to the table when you do go back to Eurostat and ask them to reevaluate their position.”
Kelly: “Well essentially, I think there were a number of points which the Central Statistics Office which is an independent body, they have issues with a number of the comments that have been made by Eurostat and the analysis. Essentially, some of their comments in relation to structure, in relation to the funding model, and also in relation to the role of local authorities, I think they’re all issues that need to be re-looked at. But, ultimately, once Irish Water is bedded down in this country – and I don’t think there is another alternative – in fact I know there isn’t another alternative. Once this is bedded down, I believe this will be off balance sheet. But In the short-term, this decision doesn’t have any impact from a budgetary point of view whatsoever.”
Watch/listen back here
Read the Eurostat’s decision here
Previously: Contains Impurities
Michael Noonan gave the government’s latest position on the Siteserv deal last night to Brian Dobson on RTÉ’s Six One News . An account which directly contradicts former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes’ recollection.
Grab a tay.
Brian Dobson: “This was a deal that, because of the write-off of the debt, it cost the taxpayer, the State, over €100million. It was one of many such deals, of course throughout that period. But it was one you raised concerns about in the aftermath, it seems, of the deal being done. Now, at what stage and why did you become concerned about this transaction?”
Michael Noonan: “Well, first of all, Anglo Irish Bank was a bit of a disaster, the taxpayers put in €34million, when Fianna Fail were in Government, and I saw my responsibility to protect the taxpayer and, if possible, to reduce the cost of servicing the €32billion and we did that with the promissory arrangements and then to recover as much as we possibly could. And I found that we didn’t have the kind of flow of information I would have now with AIB, for example, because the arrangement that my predecessor entered into didn’t require transactions to be notified and I was in the position of having to answer to the Dáil and of being unsure of the flow of information, even though there was regular meetings between IBRC and Finance officials.”
Dobson: “So in relation to Siteserv then, you were only aware of the transaction, the fact that €100m, over €100m of debt had been written off and that the company had subsequently been sold to a company controlled by Denis O’Brien in March 2012, I think it was, you only became aware of that after the event?”
Noonan: “Yeah, I got a PQ [Parliamentary Question] in April and then I got briefed on it but there was a series of concerns about the relationship between IBRC and the Department of Finance at the time. And I had a number of meetings and, at one meeting, I was extensively briefed on issues from renumeration to new appointments of directors, to senior management and the Siteserv issue was an issue of concern as well.”
Dobson: “So why were you left in the dark? Was it that you didn’t ask the right questions, you didn’t say to the people in charge of IBRC, ‘what’s going on here? keep me briefed?'”
Noonan: “No, it was the legal arrangement, when Anglo became IBRC, between the then minister and the authorities in IBRC was that they didn’t have to notify anything that was commercial. The idea was to keep the commercial decisions at a distance from the politicians.”
Noonan: “Which is reasonable…”
Dobson: “Even though it was the taxpayers’ interest that was at stake here.”
Noonan: “It’s a reasonable thing to do but, you know, I found that I needed more information then I was getting automatically so I actually subsequently changed the framework so that they had to notify any transactions over €100million.”
Dobson: “What your officials were saying to you and they were expressing concerns about this deal at the time and what they were saying is that you should have gone to the chairman of the IBRC and said, ‘I want an independent review of this transaction’ to get to the bottom of what happened. You didn’t. Why not?”
Noonan: “Well, that was the essence of it, but really what it was was important meetings. I’d have a kind of a note to remind me of the main issues and, in that note, the advice was to put it to Alan Dukes, who was the chairman, to have an outside inquiry into the transaction. But in the course of the meeting, Alan Dukes told me that he had got the board of IBRC to do a full review and that the board had assured him, and he was assuring me, that what happened was in the best interest of the State and consequently of the taxpayer.”
Dobson: “But the board carrying out a review is very different to an independent review.”
Noonan: “Yes but to say you could review something if there was a possibility of changing anything but all transactions were complete. There was no legal possibility of a reversal and I trusted Alan Dukes.”
Dobson: “But presumably accountability is also important here. That people know what went on and why because there were aspects of this deal, your own officials raised questions about it, for example, that the shareholders in the company Siteserv, which was bust, were paid €5million.”
Noonan: “I had a meeting where Alan Dukes came in as chairman, Michael Aynsley came in as chief executive and we went through the issues and the conclusion of that was an assurance from the chairman, on behalf of the board, that everything was done properly and not only done properly but was the best result possible for the Irish taxpayers and that’s minuted. And I accepted that. Otherwise I’d have problems with allowing the board to continue. And…”
Dobson: “Did you get answers to the questions, for example, as to why some potential bidders were excluded from the process. I think one French company said they were willing to offer €60million for this company whereby it was sold for €45million.”
Noonan: “There was a series of allegations made before and after I had the meeting. But, in general terms, the deal was the deal and I was assured that the components of the deal were necessary to get the best result for the taxpayer and, you know, there was independent advice as well to the board of IBRC and they concluded the deal and…”
Dobson: “And the best deal for the taxpayer included €5million for the shareholders in a bust company?”
Noonan: “The view on that was that this was an essential component, or the advice was that the shareholders wouldn’t have concluded the deal otherwise and the longer it went on, the more the taxpayer were losing because the company was going downhill”
Dobson: “There are more documents, I think, to be released tomorrow [today] under Freedom of Information, we believe in the Irish Times. Will they address something else that’s referred to in the documents that had been released, that Siteserv wasn’t the only deal about which there was concern within your department?”
Noonan: “There was a lot of concerns about different issues and these will be recited in tomorrow’s, in tomorrow’s release, under Freedom of Information but everything that people are saying about Siteserv now were the issues that I was briefed on when I had a series of meetings and one in particular with the chairman and the chief executive of the company.”
Dobson: “OK well more to come on this…”
Noonan: “More to come tomorrow, yeah.”
Dobson: “Minister Noonan, thank you very much.”
Yesterday: Throwing Alan Under The Bus
Previously: Siteserv on Broadsheet
Contemporary dance followed by that look.
“Sharon Ní Bheoláin in news blooper on tonight’s [RTE] Six One..”
Needs more Holly.
Fred Murray writes:
Female Tennis Eugenie Bouchard on Six One this eve tells the Melbourne crowd who she’d like to date most in the world… Dobbo and Shazza loved this one.