Kenny says Coalition united behind Howlin on need for €300m payroll cuts
Micheál Martin accuses Government of a lack of transparency
Enda Kenny: said the mandate given to Mr Howlin was to open negotiations and discussions in a full, open, truthful and constructive fashion. Photograph: Eric Luke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said finding the required public payroll savings remains the “bottom line” following the rejection of Croke Park II.
He said the Government was absolutely united behind Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin in his declaration that €300 million in extra savings from payroll this year and €1 billion by 2015 were needed.
Mr Kenny said the mandate given to Mr Howlin was to open negotiations and discussions in a full, open, truthful and constructive fashion, and the Labour Relations Commission had come forward with its proposals.
“These proposals were based on a fair and equitable contribution from the public sector, given that 35 per cent of expenditure is allocated to public sector payroll and pensions,” he said.
“This was done specifically to defend frontline services and to keep a very clear view of the progress the Government has made with the people in terms of the path we have been following towards recovery of our economic independence and achieving credibility internationally and growing our own economy so we can provide jobs for our people.”
Mr Kenny said the Government would now consider the outcome of the ballot and its consequences.
‘Nods and winks’
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said it was very clear the Taoiseach’s plan B was to reflect. “I find it extraordinary there is no more detail emanating from him on the scenarios he must have factored in,” he added.
Mr Martin said the Taoiseach had been asked in the House on Tuesday if legislation would be introduced on aspects of the deal, but he had equivocated and did not give a straight answer.
Accusing the Government of a lack of transparency, Mr Martin said the House had no idea what kind of nods and winks were sent in different directions to try to get the votes over the line. The Taoiseach had played “an old-fashioned, traditionalist numbers game” and failed spectacularly.
Mr Kenny said that unlike Mr Martin when he was in government, Mr Howlin had published the clarifying letters for the unions and their representatives remaining in the talks.
‘Bully boy threats’
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the truth was that workers had “recognised that it would be bad for public sector workers and their families, bad for the public services on which we all depend and bad for the domestic economy”.
“Our nurses, teachers and emergency service workers refused to be intimidated by the bully boy threats of the Minister, Deputy Howlin.”
Ms McDonald said the Taoiseach should tackle the issue of excessive pay at the top of the public service and the civil service. “He should get a real deal on generic drugs, or why not a third tax rate on individual incomes over €100,000?”
She challenged him to withdraw his threat of legislation enforcing an across-the-board pay cut of 7 per cent. Mr Kenny accused Ms McDonald of “utter hypocrisy”, adding that Sinn Féin’s plan for €3 billion in extra income tax would be a lethal injection for the economy, driving thousands and thousands of jobs out of the country.