Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Report of Seanad Public Consultation Committee: Statements
I am somebody who grew up in business and employed more than 30 people many years ago long before I entered politics. I welcome this report and I congratulate Senator Ó Céidigh and all those involved in it. A lack of access to finance is a problem for small companies and we know cash flow is the lifeblood of many companies.
I want to resolve one matter in particular. When the recession happened, most people were in businesses and those business are not fit for purpose now. Retail has changed, for example, but new businesses and companies are embedded in our local communities. People do not fully realise that many of those businesses bought bank shares for their pensions. Most people in the public service, such as ourselves, have a pension but most people in businesses did not have a pension plan and they bought bank shares in Bank of Ireland and AIB. Those bank shares were their lump sum and dividend. That is one thing most people do not understand. Those people ended up with nothing. I know most of my friends who were in business - and perhaps the businesses were not fit for purpose - ended up with nothing. I had a shop that I kept going for as long as I could and the only reason it closed is that I ran out of money. Senator Kieran O'Donnell summed it up perfectly. There was an honesty and a loyalty involved in keeping businesses going. Those people were let down by the State because there was nothing there for them. I am delighted we now have some support for self-employed people through the social protection system. I am watching what is happening. I went into the county council in 1999 and I remember every year the county council used to decide to increase the rates by 3% or 4%.