Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Topical Issue Debate

Croke Park Agreement Review

3:50 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour) | Oireachtas source

The Deputy has rightly acknowledged that we have a very small group of people who are working in support of the implementation body to produce these reports. They certainly have been fully occupied in the negotiations on an extension of the Croke Park agreement. The Deputy has understood the point well that the objective I set out to achieve on behalf of the Government in last year's budget was an additional contribution from the public sector pay bill in order to meet our fiscal targets and reduce the deficit below 3% by 2015. That was completely accepted by the Deputy and his party. In fact, his party wanted €350 million in additional payroll savings to be achieved this year on top of the figure pertaining Croke Park 1. That was a fair enough presentation to us.

I am and remain a big fan of Croke Park 1. I have never said anything else. I spent two years defending it, often in a very lonely position when every Sunday newspaper attacked the public service and public servants for being featherbedded. Unfortunately, the inescapable fact that I presented to the trade union movement at the end of last year was that in order to achieve the deficit targets we are obliged to achieve under the programme of funding, I needed to ask for a further contribution from public servants. It was a question of doing so in as fair a way as I possibly could. We can all have different views on the individual component parts, and the Deputy has strong views on premium pay, but I believe the set of recommendations was objectively fair. Objectively, they have been rejected, however. We must ascertain between now and next week how the Labour Relations Commission gets on in its talks. There are a number of talks proceeding as we speak. Next Monday, I expect to receive a report. Once I have reported to the Government on Tuesday, I have no doubt we will have an opportunity to determine, by agreement in the House, how to achieve the payroll savings that are necessary to meet our very challenging deficit targets.


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