Seanad debates

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

3:00 am

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)

The welfare of the people is continually suppressed in the interests of the system. In an article in Rolling Stone in 2009 Matt Taibbi described Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. I have been raising such issues as Goldman Sachs, the banking system and the ratings agencies for the past ten years. The rating agencies are no more than a flotilla of poisonous squids with the same motivation and intent as Goldman Sachs. In this context, I call for the establishment of an international financial court. The agencies are engaged in re-rating countries, yet they have been shown previously to have no knowledge or understanding of the concept of a conflict of interest. Who knows whether some of the people concerned do not have an interest in the impact they are having on the market? Who knows whether they are not making money on it? We are all entitled to know. Why is money being lent to the banks to buy bonds at a rate of 6% for which we, the Irish people, are paying?

Continuing on the theme of the welfare of citizens, I was astonished at the response of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, when she was asked about marriage equality. Her response shows she has no intention of respecting the welfare of children. I am tired of the posturing of politicians on this issue and the opportunism that abounds when it comes to the welfare of children. I opposed the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 on the basis that it violated the rights of children. Members who are now on the Government side of the House spoke most affectingly about the matter, but have they done anything about it? Gay people can adopt children - let that message go out - but they cannot do so as a couple. This means that when the adopting parent dies, the child is in limbo. I hear such smug hypocrisy about the welfare of children, but, as I pointed out at the time, the failure to make provision in this regard in the Act was nothing more than an abuse of children.

Let us put the welfare of the people at the centre of our agenda. I hope to have an opportunity, if we have a general debate on economics, to talk about these matters. I spoke to the marriage equality people; I spoke to people about fracking and I have concluded that it is all part of the same thing - a lack of respect for the welfare of the people.

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