The government’s decision to appoint the Competition Authority to undertake a review of the role of Ireland’s state ports is a prelude to asset stripping on a grand scale according to the Workers’ Party.
The Party’s President, Michael Finnegan said that the decision, authorised by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, was totally inappropriate but merely set in train the first steps of the McCarthy Report’s proposal to sell off the most lucrative part of Ireland’s major state port companies.
Mr. Finnegan said that the government’s description of the ports as “sheltered areas of the economy” was indicative of the mindset in which the review would be approached. “If the government want to look at sheltered areas of the economy”, said Mr. Finnegan, “it should start first with the private sector and the vast array of tax breaks, loopholes and subsidies given to native and international companies, developers and speculators. Indeed Irish taxpayers continue to pay an appalling price for the rescue of the most sheltered area of all in our economy, the banks and other financial institutions”.
“Ireland’s ports are grossly underdeveloped for an island nation, they have for too long been the Cinderella of our national economy and instead of assessing them for possible fire sales, the government should regard them as areas with huge potential in the area of job creation and sustainable development. The Competition Authority will produce only one formula out of this review, one set in stone before it begins, that is to promote the partial sale of the ports and we will end up like the UK where major ports such as Liverpool are now run entirely by private companies for private profit”.
Mr. Finnegan said speculators were eyeing up the huge land banks attached to the ports as the real prize of privatisation. “The private sector are waiting for the government to kill the fatted calf that is the Irish port companies and they are greedily waiting for the best parts. The Workers’ Party calls on the trade union movement and all those who believe in dynamic publicly owned ports as drivers of the economy to come together and fight port privatisation with absolute determination and in the interest of all citizens and port users”
Issued Friday, 20th July 2012