Labouring the point?

To those few, those happy few, who esteem themselves regular readers of this blog, my views on the Labour Party, and the nature of the “alternative” offered thereby, will be well-known. At the risk of doing what’s written in the title, however, I wanted to bring something I just happened upon to (marginally) wider attention.

I’ve been having a wee dig in various registers of members’ interests. Nothing obviously untoward leaps out. Mary Harney owns shares in A.I.B. and B.O.I. Willie O’Dea owns shares in multiple African diamond-mining operations, as well as other oil and mining companies at home and abroad. There are no significant diamond resources in Chad, as far as I’m aware, but it’s easy to see how a possible conflict of interest may have arisen for a Minister of Defence elsewhere.

I’ll spare the blushes of the Dublin City councillor who, in declaring shares in Cadbury, listed Nature of Business as “Sweets” (ah, screw him, it was Dr. Chameleon himself, Bill Tormey.)

The most striking entry belonged to Ruairi Quinn, and is notably absent from the profile on his website. In the Dáil register, we find the following:

8. Remunerated Position ……. Chair, Fund Advisory Committee: 4th Level Ventures, 75 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

4th Level Ventures was a new one on me, so I took a toodle to Google and found the following depressing glimpse into the future of education.

The website’s masthead reads “Commercialising Academic Research”, and the company identifies its role thus:

4th Level Ventures is a €20 million Venture Capital Fund managed by Dolmen Securities. Founded in 2002, we are focused exclusively on investing in companies whose Intellectual Property arises from third level education institutional research. We are sector neutral, our expertise lies in the commercialisation of technology.

Our primary objective is to commercialise the business opportunities that arise from university research. In Ireland, this output is being boosted by Government investment of €2.5bln for science research from 2002-2006.

Ruairi Quinn is Labour Spokesperson on Education and Science.

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18 Responses to “Labouring the point?”

  1. C. Flower Says:

    Oh dear!

  2. WorldbyStorm Says:

    I like the Dr. Chameleon line.

    But isn’t it dispiriting that RQ one?

  3. CMK Says:

    Hmm. Veeery interesting!!! Another item to add to the Labour charge sheet.

    A more parasitic relationship would be hard to imagine. The state (i.e. PAYE workers) stumps up the cash to fund university research; and 4th Level (Dolmen) swoops in like a vulture to cherry pick those parts that look profitable for probably a very modest sum in exchange. Trebles all round!!

    Meanwhile the grunts who produce the research have pay slashed and get to live precarious lives on year-to-year contracts ad infinitum, with ever worsening conditions.

    A ne’er a peep from Ruairi about any of that. Some f**king ‘Labour’ party.

    If Ruairi were even a half-decent social democrat he’d be advocating a state owned, controlled and run body to commercialise university research with the state get the lion’s share of revenue.

    But he’s not and he won’t.

  4. Circumlimina; ‘Labouring the point?’ – The Story Says:

    […] here? You may consider subscribing to our RSS feed or for updates via email.Good post over on relatviely new lefty-blog Circumlimina about Ruairi Quinn’s conflicts? declaration… of interests. The most striking entry […]

  5. Margaret Says:

    Doesn’t really surprise me give red Ruari’s record –

    1) appealing revenue refusal to give him artists tax exemption on his memoirs (and winning that appeal)

    2) Claiming his large ministerial pension while still working and only giving it up when the media storm generated by these pensions meant he had to give it up ‘voluntarily’.

    3) he always claimed his daily turning up money (€55 per day to 1/3/2010) even though he only travels from sandymount. He now automatically receives €1000 pm tax free to turn up under the new regime. Maybe he has asked NOT to receive it, but i doubt it.

    he was quite ‘entitled’ to claim the tax exemption and to have pension AND large salary at the same time and turning up money that greatly exceeded any travelling expenses to work he had.

    But entitlements and ethics and morality are different.

    • DublinDilettante Says:

      But entitlements and ethics and morality are different

      Absolutely. Even FF are having to pay lip service to that maxim nowadays!

      Just to clarify, I’m not implying there’s any wrongdoing here. Many people would perceive a conflict of interest in these two positions, and it would certainly pose an ethical dilemma were Quinn to get the Education portfolio.

      However, I’m more interested in the fact that Labour have no objection to their Education spokesman acting as chairman of a company dedicated to commercialising academic research. That tells you something about the orientation of any future Labour-based government, for those who still consider the party meaningfully progressive.

      I might also note that it says something about the state/corporate media. It took me seconds to open the register and Google the company, more or less on a whim. Either they couldn’t be bothered doing that, or they’re so complacent about the triumph of neoliberalism that they see no issue here.

  6. LeftAtTheCross Says:

    Parasite (him, not you!).

    But put the question to him on his blog as a comment. The following article might be an appropriate place for it.

    http://www.ruairiquinn.ie/?p=95

    See if he has the balls to respond.

  7. irishelectionliterature Says:

    There is a piece in his Spring Newsletter ‘Labour’s Priorities in Education 2010 – 2015’ which has 15 points
    Points 12 and 13 are….
    12. Develop the third level sector as a Centre
    for International Excellence to attract more
    foreign students to study in Ireland.
    13. Encourage deeper co-operation and
    integration within the third level sector,
    including shared facilities and staff, so as to
    improve standards and increase
    efficiencies.

  8. Mick Says:

    You will all be pleased to know that Dolmen Securities Limited received a nice little €8.6m top up from the practitioners of our own national version of an ‘industrial strategy’, Enterprise Ireland.

    http://www.deti.ie/press/2004/20040512a.htm

  9. The week in Dublin: July 27 | Dublin Observer Says:

    […] Circumlimina had a post this week about Ruari Quinn’s potential conflicts of interest (brought to our attention via The Story). Quinn, the Labour Party spokesperson on Education and Science, is chairperson of the fund advisory committee for 4th Level Ventures, a company devoted to “Commercialising Academic Research”. […]

  10. steve white Says:

    is this not agreed on policy by all parties, even socialist would agree with as long as it didn’t mean cutting more pure academic and cultural depts

  11. Declan Says:

    Why shouldn’t we commercialise 3rd level research? The state pays for it, surely the state should get money from it? Not to mention the jobs created from spin-off companies. I think this is a perfectly sustainable model for 3rd level funding, and if we were to stop it then how would you fund free 3rd level education, or would you rather the return of fees? It would be nice for a state-run company to do this, but we don’t have the money, at least under FF.

    • DublinDilettante Says:

      Any revenue accruing to the state and any jobs created will be negligible compared to state investment in education. This is the same old neoliberal mindset; using state resources to generate private profit. It’s ideological, and Quinn’s involvement in it is also ideological.

      PS: It was a state body that bankrolled these parasites in the first place. Nothing else would be countenanced under FF, FG or Lab, for those same ideological reasons.

    • Aidan Says:

      I would also point out that it puts pressure on researchers to pursue research that is profitable for private companies, rather than what is good for science as a discipline.

  12. steve white Says:

    so who should convert research into practical applications then DD?

  13. Bill Tormey Says:

    Cadbury’s is no more – Kraft now. Sadly for the workforce

  14. Ruairi Quinn for Education Minister? - Page 7 Says:

    […] […]

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