Kenny against Croke Park review

Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 01:00

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has categorically ruled out any renegotiation of the Croke Park agreement ahead of its conclusion at the end of next year.

In very clear language designed to dispel any doubt over an early renegotiation, Mr Kenny said that no unilateral action taken on the agreement.

“We have an agreement. The agreement is in place and will be honoured in full.”

Mr Kenny was speaking at the opening of Fine Gael’s two-day parliamentary party meeting in Westport, Co Mayo.

His comments were seen as putting an end to uncertainty over the future status of the agreement – which protects pay and conditions for public sector workers in return for changes in work practices and redundancies – which has been ongoing since the weekend.

Several senior Ministers have made conflicting statements over whether or not the agreement could remain unchanged until it concludes at the end of 2013.

Mr Kenny said that the only issue was that the Government was keen to make sure the agreement was implemented as quickly and as fully as possible.

He disagreed with the suggestion that the Government parties were not in agreement, or that Ministers were sending out mixed messages.

“What we want to see is that the pace of implementation is accelerated as quickly as possible.

“I have met with the implementation group myself along with [Minister for Public Expenditure] Brendan Howlin. We want to squeeze as much as we can from the existing agreement.

“It’s very important that as each Minister prepares plan for the Budget 2013 that they identify the issues in respect of Croke Park,” he said.

“There is no difference of opinion here.”

Asked would there be any renegotiation, Mr Kenny replied: “It’s an agreement that’s honour-bound and there has to be honour among parties to the agreement.

“We want to see it implemented in full as quickly as possible.”

The two-day meeting will focus on the economy, and also discuss the party's position on the children's referendum. Mr Kenny said that the referendum will be held in the autumn.

In a doorstep interview at the conference venue in the Knockranny House Hotel, Mr Kenny also confirmed that a property tax would form part of December’s Budget but steadfastly refused to give details, saying that the issue had yet to come before Cabinet.

“We are preparing for Budget 2013 when [Minister for Finance] will introduce the most challenging budget in this Government’s period in office.

“[A property tax] Will be considered by Government arising from the Thornhill report when it comes before government in the not too distant future,” he said.

Mr Kenny referred to the latest Chapter IV report on Ireland from a team from the International Monetary Foundation. It had suggested a property tax of up to €400 per household and had also proposed the means testing of child benefit.

The Taoiseach said the report was not part of the Troika process but was a separate report conducted by the IMF each year. Some people put meanings on politicians’ words.

There is no disagreement on this issue or on any “It is their perspective of what a property tax should be. It’s not part of the normal Troika discussion.

“It’s a report that is not binding on Government. The IMF is entitled to produce their report and Government is entitled to consider it, and accept it or reject it or whatever it decides,” he said.

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