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Rock bottom fire sale of State assets is opposed

THE Government faces a major challenge if it is to sell off State assets without accepting bargain basement prices.

Cabinet ministers are set to take an "a la carte" approach to the McCarthy report when drawing up their auction list.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has said his colleagues will waste no time deciding which national jewels to sell off -- but cautioned against a fire sale.

The report identified how the Exchequer could raise up to €5bn -- the Programme For Government commits the Cabinet to selling €2bn worth of assets "when markets conditions are right".

Socialist TD Clare Daly has described some of the report's recommendations as ridiculous.


"To sell off State assets to plug the hole caused by speculation and profiteering, it's just madness that in the current climate you would promote a policy which inevitable is going to lead to further job losses and a tax on pay."

Fianna Fail's Willie O'Dea said the plan could threaten job creation.

"I also agree with the report's view that energy assets are of strategic importance and should be retained in State ownership," he said.

The Irish Congress of Trade of Unions said that the report had "little to offer".

And Richard Browne of the Unite trade union said: "The value to Ireland of the ESB has been built up over generations."

He said selling it would be "sacrificing a vital infrastructural asset on the altar of broken banks".