This is a blurb from Eamonn Ryan of the grren party. Politics aside, some interesting points made here.
Govt spending €1m a week to insulate homes
Issued: 28 March 2010
Statement by Eamon Ryan
Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
For every million the Government spends, a further €4m from the private sector is unlocked says Energy Minister Eamon Ryan
DOING THE RIGHT THING: Address to Convention 2010
There was some comment this week on the merits of the Government lead by Garret Fitzgerald in the mid 80s. As someone who lived through the emigration and unemployment of that time, I learned some real lessons as to what we needed from our Government.
Firstly, that a country is ill served by a Government unwilling or unable to take the tough decision that are sometimes needed.
The stalemate that existed between the Fine Gael and Labour coalition partners around some of the hard decisions of that time, served neither their parties nor the people.
A second lesson came from what Fianna Fail did at the time. In opposition they fought against every single cut and cutback. In 1987 once on the other side of the Dáil chamber they when ahead with even bigger cutback than they had been opposing months earlier.
We need to learn from such lessons as we grow as a country and that experience from the 1980s has informed how we have acted in Government over the last 2 years.
Alan Dukes and Garret Fitzgerald have more experience than most with financial crises. Perhaps that it is why they have supported the banking decisions taken by this Government over the last year, even when that ran counter to their own party.
In Government, The Green Party has had the difficult task of cleaning up a mess that was not of our making. I genuinely believe that the approach we are following, while highly unpalatable, will be the least cost solution.
The Fine Gael position that effectively calls for a default on our debts would carry real risks. I can understand why people ask the simple question, why not just let Anglo go or let the bond holders take all the pain.
The reality is that those subordinated bond-holders who did take a risk by putting money into the bank, have and will lose out. The option of defaulting on the senior bond holders would be a different matter.
We would have to tell the European Central Bank and a variety of pension funds and other banks that were not going to get back the money they have put on deposit. We would then have to liquidate all the banks loans at fire-sale prices, rather than separating them out and profiting from the performing loans and winding down in an orderly way the ones that will make a loss.
While I have respect for David McWilliams who has argued for such an approach and taken it to its logical conclusion which would be our exit from the euro, I still disagree with him. In opposition Fine Gael have proposed such a solution without outlining in real detail what they are talking about. In Government we have the responsibility of assessing all the implications of such an approach including the massive and sustained job losses that could arise.
The Labour party approach – while also politically popular is also not credible. Are they really saying in September 2008 that they would have let our banking system go? Did they really want to bring us along the route that the people in Iceland have had to take? They seem to have learnt nothing from the 1980s if they believe that the way out this financial crisis is to spend money that we don’t have.
The coming week will show in real detail the extent of repairs we need to make in our banking sector. While people are rightly furious about the legacy from other peoples mistakes, I believe that the problem can and will be managed effectively.
The discount on loans purchased by NAMA is likely to be higher than we had originally estimated. This is precisely because the Green Party, as we said last October in Athlone, insisted that such valuations would be done on a case-by-case basis.
It is also likely we will have to take a further state shareholding in some of our banks, but that again is something that throughout this process the Green Party has been preparing for.
Lastly, and most importantly, a return to property bubble prices cannot be part of the solution.
We are doing this work not out of a deep-seated desire to maintain our existing capitalist system. Rather we are taking the approach advocated by Keynes who, at a similar moment of historic change in the 1930s, argued that you first have to stabilise a system before you can change it.
Bank crises have occurred down throughout history all over the world. The most successful remedies follow a simple A, B, C.: Guarantee, Asset Manage, Recapitalise.
We are doing A, B and C. But there is a crucial fourth stool that the Green Party understands. There are significant sections of our population who are daily struggling with the legacy of debt. That’s why in the Renewed Programme for Government we insisted on a range of new measures to help those people stay in their family home, to allow insolvent businesses make a fresh start and to update our Dickensian debt and insolvency laws so that people can back on their own two feet.
We are only at the start of changing all that needs to be changed.. We need to change our tax system to discourage such property speculation in the future. We need to change our banking and business culture to replace short-term speculative thinking with a sustainable development ethos. And most importantly we need to change our planning and political system so that the brown envelope and cute rezoning s are made forever a thing of the past.
No amount of budget management or banking reform on its own will get people back to work. History shows that only a new economy can pull people out of these types of financial crises. I have the fortunate position in Government at the very centre of the creation of this new economy. It’s based on clean energy, digital technology and home-grown Irish creativity.
In energy, we have 3 economic opportunities which we are now delivering.
We have already met our 2010 target of producing 15% of electricity from renewable energy. And it’s only March. I am proud that the energy from wind power has doubled since the Green Party has been in Government . We know exactly where we’re going and how we can double that again and again and again. The investments we are making in our electricity grids, in windfarms and in new ocean energy technologies are the perfect solution to our recessionary blues.
8 years ago in opposition we started devising schemes to improve our poorly-insulted housing stock. As soon as we got into Government in 2007 we started to turn those plans into reality. In 2008, we upgraded some 6,000 houses. In 2009 it was 35,000 and this year we aim to go into over 50,000 Irish homes making them warmer, cleaner and cheaper to run.
We’re currently spending over 1 million Euros each week on the Home Energy Saving Scheme. For every million the Government spends, a further 4 million Euros from the private sector is unlocked. 5,000 contractors are getting work on the back of it. But I want to go further. There are over 1 million homes in Ireland in need of retrofit. That is why I’m going to Government now looking to introduce further measures so we can improve 100,000 homes every year for the next ten years: one million homes in a decade. At the same time we will be going into every school, every hospital and Garda station to cut out the carbon and keep in the heat.
The third area of opportunity in energy is to harness our real ICT skills to further that goal of energy efficiency. We have recently installed a smart meter in the Ryan home, which has turned myself and my lady wife into “switch off the emersion!” fanatics. It is remarkable how the presentation of simple data can have real effect and how important a role communications will play in our new energy future.
As we roll out our electrical vehicles across the country, it is unlikely we will make the cars or perhaps even the batteries but what we can do is make the software and develop the systems approach which we then sell to the rest of the world.
Last year I set out a vision for 6 technological developments that will promote this new economy. Three of the six projects are related to smart grid technologies. That report was not designed like others to gather dust on the shelf. In the most difficult budget circumstances we were able to get funding to roll out electric vehicles. Yesterday I plugged in an electric car at the first of 1,500 charging points that will be rolled out nationwide by the ESB. And I will shortly be announcing incentives for the purchase of these vehicles that will be central to a new, greener transport system in Ireland.
Last year I went to IBM HQ in Upstate NY and set out our vision of Ireland as a test-bed for such smart grid technologies. And only this week IBM came to town saying that they had chosen Ireland as their centre of leading research into how you build a better planet using fewer resources. They brought 200 jobs with them too. They were weeping in Singapore that day.
Our Knowledge Society report also committed to building the world’s fastest fiber-optic network using technology developed by Irish companies in Irish universities. We’re now about to sign contracts to build that network. We have 20 international companies who want to take part and share the experience. We are turning vision into reality.
Maybe it’s easy to be optimistic in my Department. But from vantage point, I see huge opportunities in the creation of a new Digital Content Services Centre, in a new Green IFSC and in a new cloud computing services in our country. In Singapore last week I saw Dublin Institute of Technologies working with an Irish company in the online development of a quality management training course which was being translated into Mandarin with the assistance of a Singapore University for it to be sold online into the Chinese Market. We can do that a hundred times over and we would only be scratching at the surface of the opportunity that is in front of us.
Coming home from India last week I had that renewed sense of confidence. We are a different country than we were in the 80s. Our skills levels are higher, our enterprise culture is stronger and now that we have lost the obsession with property speculation we are well placed to make an economic recovery – one that uses fewer natural resources and were the rewards are shared out more equally.
I know that the Green Party has the clearest vision of this new economy. We get it and in Government we can deliver on it.
When I came into office 600,000 people had broadband. Now it’s 1.5 million. Part of that success has been due to a strategy of pitching competing companies against each other so that they are forced to drive speeds up and prices down to win the customer. When the market was not able to deliver then we were willing and able to step in. The €250 million National Broadband Scheme along with our new Rural Broadband Scheme which is being supported by the EU will ensure that by the time I leave office every home in this country will be able to access broadband.
The development of the internet has been the most positive and productive technological development of my lifetime. It is having a transformative effect in a whole range of social and business activities. But it is in the development of our media that it is presenting perhaps one of the clearest opportunities and challenges.
As the internet inevitably continues to undermine the traditional business models of many of our traditional media outlets one of my most important tasks as a minister is to set out Government policy in this area.
We need to embrace the potential of digital media but at the same time we must ensure that we have new funding arrangements and business models which support independent, fair and accurate news reporting and investigation. In the coming months I intend to work with both our content regulator the BAI, and our network regulator ComReg and a range of media interests to map out what public policy response we need to make.
I believe our ethos should be to embrace rather than try and stop the tide of new media but we must also insure we have good local and quality content as well as a truly free press. Doing so requires us having an effective and independent regulator, which I have established under the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The journalism profession surely knows that a regulator, which can protect against a race to the bottom in reporting standards, is first and foremost in its own as well as the public interest.
Finally can I stand up and say something in defence of our political system. I know that it is in so many ways culpable for the economic mistakes we have made in recent years. But I am equally sure that it is capable of getting us to the next positive stage in our national development.
You can sometimes hear a common negative refrain that we are all the same, that we all need to be kicked out, that we need to get some business people in to run the country instead.
We have of course one thing in common: we were all elected by the Irish people and perhaps as a reflection of that free choice we have all the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish people. People of different parties will of course have own motives for why they have entered politics but I can only properly account for our own team.
I know we make our own mistakes, I know we still have a lot to learn but at I am also now heartened in these difficult times we have shown an ability to work together and a certain steely determination in steering our country in what I am convinced is a genuinely progressive direction.
I know that our own party is still the party with the right answers. The party that understands that politics is not simply the pursuit of power or the promotion of an ideology; it has a deep morality at its core.
A politics, as Vaclav Havel said is derived from ‘a strong and utterly personal sense of responsibility for the world, a politics deriving from the awareness that none of us as an individual can save the world as whole, but that nevertheless each of us must behave as though it were in our power to do so.”
So if you would like to partake in the government home insulation upgrade scheme, just visit us at www.insulateyourhome.ie and see what we can do for you.