Focus on pay talks as Dáil resumes

Attention centred on the outcome of trade union votes on Croke Park II

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: has been asked to consider a ’sunset clause’ to review abortion legislation at a later date. Photograph: Donall Farmer

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: has been asked to consider a ’sunset clause’ to review abortion legislation at a later date. Photograph: Donall Farmer

Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 10:48

The Dáil resumes today after a two-week recess for Easter, with attention centred on the outcome of trade union votes on the “Croke Park II” pay cuts and looming legislation on abortion.

Legislation to conduct a referendum in the autumn to abolish the Seanad is also expected during the new parliamentary session.

With the final result of trade union voting on the second Croke Park deal to be made public tomorrow, the outcome is seen within the Government to be in the balance with only a slim majority in prospect if at all.

Legislation
A “No” vote would force the Coalition to push through legislation to cut public sector pay without the agreement of unions.

This is tricky for Labour in particular, given the inevitability of Opposition attacks on TDs who vote in the Dáil for any such measures.

However, Government sources have stressed in recent days that the Coalition remains prepared to legislate for pay cuts even if the deal is voted down.

Amid pressure to execute a smooth exit from the EU-IMF bailout later this year, the Government is wedded to a fiscal plan which compels it to extract big cuts from the pay and pensions bill this year.

The new political season comes days after a deal with the euro zone powers to postpone the repayment of Ireland’s bailout loans.

This followed a separate deal to scrap the Anglo Irish Bank promissory note scheme, but a breakthrough is unlikely before the bailout ends on the claim for aid from the ESM fund to ease the cost of rescuing AIB and Bank of Ireland.

Abortion
A further source of anxiety is legislation on abortion to give effect to the X-case ruling of the Supreme Court.

The Government wants to complete enactment of the new law by the summer recess and Minister for Health Dr James Reilly is preparing to present draft heads of the Bill early next month.

While the legislation is expected to be very restrictive, there remains opposition to the plan within Fine Gael.

Cork North West TD Michael Creed has asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to consider a “sunset clause” to review the legislation at a later date, a proposal which has met with a frosty response within Labour.