Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Order of Business
Ned O'Sullivan (Fianna Fail)
We have heard a fair amount of classical allusions so I shall top them off with a quotation from ancient Greece. There is a little aphorism "meden agen" which loosely translates into "enough already" or "we have had enough". The employers of Ireland have had "meden agen" from the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton. I warmly support Senator Mary Ann O'Brien's comments on the proposed imposition of the first month of sick pay penalty on the employer. It comes soon after the Government's decision to reduce the redundancy rebate for employers from 60% down to 15%. As the Senator said, both these measures will cost jobs and someone must call a halt.
On an urgent note, I am delighted to applaud the work that has resulted in 1,000 jobs being created in County Louth. It is a great day for that county but in contrast it is a bad day for mine. The Commission for Energy Regulation has issued a proposal to impose new charges on new entrants into the energy provision sector. It will support and underpin the profits of Bord Gáis and existing providers but will make it almost impossible for new people to enter the sector. Members will have heard me speak on a number of occasions about the LNG project in Kerry on the Shannon Estuary. The investors have put in €40 million of their own money, seek no Government grants and gone through all planning and other stages. However, the energy regulator has said to them that in order for the company to get into the sector a further €10 million per annum must be paid by it to pay for the gas interconnector with the UK. That is patently unfair and is only the decision of the regulator.
Last week I raised the matter with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte. My colleague, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, helped me to promote the project when we were councillors or in a different walk of life. I call on the Leader to again go to him and the rest of the Government and rectify the matter immediately. Some mechanism must be put in place to compensate the principals behind the project or they will walk away with the loss of 500 jobs, the country's energy security greatly threatened and the project will be a total disaster.