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FF's Martin attacks "bare-faced lies" over sale of state assets

Micheál Martin says Labour ministers are “covering their tracks” by claiming Fianna Fáil agreed to the sale of state assets.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has attacked what he described as “bare-faced lies” from members of the cabinet – particularly those from the Labour Party – about the proposed sale of state assets.

In a vociferous defence, Martin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that Labour ministers were continually suggesting that the sale of state assets was a condition of the EU-IMF deal reached by Fianna Fáil when this was not the case.

Martin said that although the previous government had asked economist Colm McCarthy to examine the potential for private sector investment in the energy sectors, this was because there was an “absolute need” to ensure that the industry was running efficiently.

The government yesterday announced plans to raise €3 billion through the sale of parts of ESB, Bord Gais, Aer Lingus and Coillte – with €1 billion being reinvested in job creation, and €2 billion to be put towards payment of the national debt.

“It’s important we have an honest debate about this… and it’s colouring the entire atmosphere in which this is discussed,” Martin said. “There’s been two government ministers on this programme, in the last two weeks, telling bare-faced lies about this process.”

Martin said Pat Rabbitte, who was on the same programme eight days ago, had gone unchallenged when he said the original EU-IMF deal required the sale of €5 billion in assets – when this deal had merely committed Ireland to examining whether assets could be sold, and not agreed to their closure.

“Our representatives met with the Troika – and the Troika were very clear in saying to our members that they were not putting pressure on the government to sell state assets,” the former foreign affairs minister insisted.

Labour may be covering its tracks, watching about its backbenchers and the trade union movement maybe, and creating a false construct about this debate.
I sat at the cabinet table… no decision was taken to sell any state assets.

Finance minister Michael Noonan has previously conceded in the Dáil that the original memorandum of understanding did not commit the State to any specific figure in the sale of assets, and that the previous fundraising target of €2 billion came from the sale of state assets.

“I am in favour of and welcome the sale of State assets. There is no blame attached,” Noonan said on October 5.

More: Kenny: I don’t foresee sale of state assets in 2012 >

Read: ‘It makes no economic sense’: Sale of state assets criticised by opposition >

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