THE BILL THAT was signed into law in the early hours of this morning to liquidate the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation had been drafted well in advance – but was brought through because of an “immediate risk to the bank”.
That was according to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who told the Dáil last night during the first stage of the Bill’s passing:
As soon as the information relating to the proposal to liquidate IBRC was made public earlier today, there was an immediate risk to the bank. Given this position I, as Minister for Finance, took immediate action to secure the stability of the bank and its assets, valued at almost €14 billion, on behalf of the State.
Minister Noonan said he vested the powers of the board temporarily in an employee of KPMG and a KPMG team is now in control of the bank on his behalf. The Government met yesterday evening and approved the proposed legislation for presentation to the Oireachtas.
But the bill doesn’t mean a deal, as Minister Noonan underlined to the Seanad:
That’s the basis on which the negotiations are proceeding but there is no deal, there is no deal, there is no agreement
He said he would report to the members if the Government gets agreement. The Government has been in negotiations with the European Central Bank on the imminent payment of €3.06 billion on the promissory notes due next month.
Thanks to this bill, the promissory notes and that annual €3.06 billion payment will be replaced with NAMA-issued bonds, which are covered by a government guarantee.
Minister Noonan also told the Seanad that IBRC staff weren’t told in advance about the bill – around 800 staff were made redundant this morning.
Last night, Ursula Halligan told TV3 that the legislation was a “contingency plan” that was ready months ago. TDs were given a copy of the Bill at around 10.30pm last night – and were given 15 minutes to debate it.
The short amount of time given prompted Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to tell the Dáil:
There is something fundamentally wrong with asking us to pass something that we have not even read for even ten minutes. We must oppose the order.
The bill was passed after going through the Seanad in the early hours of this morning, and was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins, who cut short an official visit to Rome to return to Ireland for the task.
Now that the legislation has been signed into law, joint special liquidators will be appointed to IBRC with immediate effect to wind up its business and operations. Explained Minister Noonan:
It is intended that the net debt owed by IBRC to the Central Bank and its associated floating charge security will be purchased by NAMA, using NAMA bonds, in a way that ensures there is no capital loss for the Central Bank.