[Sinn Fein]

5 December 2000

ICC Bank and TSB Bank should not be sold - Gerry Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has hit out at today's announcement that the ICC and TSB banks are to be sold off.

``In 1993, the Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition made a commitment in their Programme for Government to create a vibrant state bank. The voters were led  to believe that this would involve the merger of ACC, ICC, the An Post Savings Bank and the TSB. This would have created a thriving third force in the  banking community with a branch network spreading throughout the 26-County State.

``This promise was never acted on.  Instead, over the last six years, we have seen a range of  failed attempts to sell off these banks  by the past  three Dublin Governments.

``The TSB and ICC should not be sold.

``With an increasing number of branch closures by the mainstream banking sector and an increase in money lending, there is a clear need for public sector banks

``Irish banks are among the most profitable in Europe and this is why so many international banks want to buy into the Irish banking sector.

``Who in the Government supports these sell-offs? This privatisation programme is the ideology of the PDs and Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy. Do the  Government parties as a whole support these sell offs?

``In the case of the TSB sale it will inevitably lead to more branch closures as Irish Life and Permanent absorb the TSB into their network.

``It is ironic that the privatisation of Irish Life and its subsequent merger has led to the creation of a financial sector company to rival the dominance of AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. With the right amount of political will Irish Life could have stayed in public ownership and with the other public sector banks created a competitive alternative to the profiteering private sector banks.

``Its profits could have been used to reinvest in the communities whose  economic activity generated the profits in the first place not siphoned out of the Irish economy like the private banking sector does today.''  ENDS

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