Thursday, 31 January 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
What the Government has said is that we are taking legal advice regarding the options that are available to us, consistent with the pay agreement that everybody signed up to with their eyes open. There is a responsibility on the Government to deliver on that, and that involves hundreds of millions of euro of extra pay across the public sector. There is also a responsibility on unions and their leadership to fulfil the obligations of those agreements. That is what protects Ireland in terms of industrial peace and ensures that civil and public servants get the pay increases they deserve and that we allocate the appropriate level of resources to deliver on those commitments, which is what we are doing. What we cannot do is interrupt that process and undermine it fundamentally for any one sector. I do not believe that if the Deputy was the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform today, or, in fact, if members of the other parties were the Minister today, they would propose a breach in the public sector pay agreement to resolve this issue either. We want the industrial relations machinery of the State, the Labour Court in particular, which is good at this, to work with both sides to find a basis to at least avoid industrial action next week. The Government is sincere about that but we have to do it within the parameters the Taoiseach has outlined.