Late Late Show Interview


If I thought my mobile usually rang a lot, it was as nothing to compared with the volume of calls and texts I got into the few hours run up to my interview with Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show.
As word spread that I was going on the show, friends, supporters and colleagues were calling and texting with all sorts of advice. While there were some bits of contradictory advice: the majority view was clear and straightforward: be yourself and tell it as it was.
That is precisely what I tried to do. I genuinely don’t bear any personal grudge regarding what happened to me last February. I do, however, have real concerns about the need of some in the Greens to have it both ways: especially as this Government approaches its last full year of office.
Collective responsibility is rendered meaningless where Green parliamentarians can appear to be making sanctioned statements of Green party policy that run contrary to the position agreed at the cabinet table by their government colleagues.
It is the worst form of gesture politics that insults and belittles both the commitment of their government colleagues and the intelligence of the entire public.
One of the other points I wanted to get across on the show was that now is not the time for politics as usual, not every government statement or ministerial utterance has to be contradicted or denounced for the sake of it, either by the opposition spin-mill or Green tweating.
A small case in point was the degree to which a remark by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern was stretched beyond its original context. When Dermot observed that Irish people take up to three times more cash from ATMs than our EU counterparts, he was simply stating a fact.
We use cash more than others. Good. Using cash is a good way of keeping spending under sensible control. Credit cards are useful, but there can be a downside to their use, as we know from the high personal debt levels of recent years. You can spend more than you can afford with a credit card in a way that just using cash doesn’t permit. 
Our higher use of cash is something to be welcomed. The banks may prefer to see us using cash less and using cards more – but that’s them just looking at their own interests above the peoples: not the first time we have seen them doing that.
Yes, there are some consequences to having this much cash in circulation, including the costs of securing all this cash moving about. But this is not something new. We have always preferred cash so there can be no justification for the banks levying additional charges on ATMs now.
One of the key providers of security for this cash is the Defence Force. The army provides anywhere up to 2,500 army escorts a year to protect cash in transit. I mention this as one of my first actions as Minister for Defence back in 2004 was to look at how we recover the costs of providing these cash escorts.
The Banks had been getting very good value for their money. Not only had no cash delivery with an army escort been robbed, but they also only paid a flat rate fee which (back in 2004) only covered about 40% of the Army’s costs. After some persuasion I managed to negotiate a new arrangement with the Banks meaning they would pay us the actual cost of supplying these escorts.
Yes we should remind ourselves that we use cash more than others and that brings with it the need to be more vigilant more security conscious. It does not provide the Banks with the opportunity to charge us more for using our money: especially when it is that same money and state support that allows them trade and stay open.

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