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Order of Business (Continued)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] That is the reality, irrespective of whatever other pretence is going on in terms of a genuine renegotiation. We are not going to rubber-stamp or be part of a charade which, on the one hand, is saying there is a negotiation process on the way but in reality the ground is being prepared for something different, in other words, to have the deal put through, through Estimates and in the form of the legislation which the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, promised in terms of the Financial Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 and the Pensions Act. We are opposing the manner in which this is being taken and the approach of the Government in the past week has been to suppress debate and get the deal through one way or another.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald During the course of the week I asked the Taoiseach and a number of his colleagues several times whether he accepts and respects the outcome of the ballot of workers in respect of Croke Park II. I never got a clear answer. He intimated that he was reflecting. He has now requested the Labour Relations Commission to reopen an engagement with unions and their workers. The manner in which the Estimates are to be brought through committees and then before the House reflects, in the clearest way, the fact that he does not have any regard or respect for the fact that the Croke Park deal was rejected because hard-wired into this Estimate and every other Estimate that will go before an Oireachtas committee and find its way to this Chamber is Croke Park II. If ever there was a case of giving the deaf ear to a democratic outcome it is here. It is absolutely inappropriate that he would put the Estimates through in this manner. I am baffled that he continues to pat himself on the back for the quality of the engagement which as the Minister said was wedded to a co-operative path with unions and their workers while, at the same time, giving them a smack on the face. He is saying it is Croke Park or Croke Park and that is the choice. As that is writ large across every Estimate we object to the taking of this Estimate with Croke Park knitted or stitched into it.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett This is a disgraceful attempt to short circuit and pre-empt any possible negotiation with public sector workers over their pay and conditions and over the Croke Park deal. It is an act of bullying of workers by the Government. It is particularly outrageous that a Labour Party Minister would seek to bully trade union members, large numbers of whom put him and his colleagues into the House and Government, and show such contempt for what ordinary public sector workers have said with their vote. He is well aware that the representatives of workers have proposals that differ markedly from his way of dealing with the deficit problem and he should be open to listen to those proposals and alternative views rather than try to shove this down their throat and pre-empt any discussions with them. Shame on a Labour Party Minister for doing this. He should not try to ram this through in advance of those negotiations.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I do not accept the assertions of Deputies Martin, McDonald and Boyd Barrett. The normal procedure for dealing with Estimates for Departments is that they are sent to committee and that is the opportunity for spokespersons or anybody else to have their say and make their line by line analysis of what is involved. That was what happened last week when they were sent to committees for that purpose. However, Members for their own opportunistic politics decided to walk out yesterday. In that sense, what is involved in the Estimates discussion this morning relates to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett can go to his room and telephone any one of the 130 people who work in shared services and say that his attempt in the Dáil this morning was to prevent him or her from being paid because that is what is necessary arising out of this Estimate. The same goes for Deputy Mary Lou McDonald who is wrong in her assertion also. What is involved here is the normal procedure of Government which wants to do its business to allow those same public sector workers to be paid. She has the opportunity to go to the committee and voice her opinion, line by line, if she does not like it. What she is trying to do is to prevent the workings of Government from going ahead and those people in shared services, for example, from getting their payment at the end of the week. I ask her to make up her mind. She has an opportunity to speak in the House if she wishes, after walking out of the committee yesterday where the Estimates had been sent for the purpose of discussion. She chose not to do that because she wants another forum to put forward her fantasy economics which would be catastrophic for the country.

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