'No more will be asked' of public sector
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has repeated that the Government will not ask more of public sector workers if they accept the new Croke Park deal.
“I hope they will accept this on that basis and not be distracted by the fantasy or rhetoric of those who are not interested in the recovery of the country but only in political point-scoring.”
The Minister was replying to Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said Mr Howlin was not prepared to prioritise low- and middle-income workers and frontline staff.
She said she shared the public frustration that certain people in the public service were overpaid and over-pensioned. “These individuals include Ministers and secretaries general.”
Mr Howlin accused Ms McDonald of coming to her conclusion on the deal before the document was even published.
“Within an hour of the conclusion of the talks, she was on the national airwaves denouncing the agreement and those who had negotiated it, in a shocking and shabby abuse of people who had worked hard to represent their members.”
He claimed Ms McDonald did not have the courtesy to read the document before “she came to her venomous conclusion”.
Fianna Fáil spokesman Seán Fleming said there was a lack of fairness in the proposals. “There is nothing in the proposals about protecting all public services, especially frontline services, for the people.”
Mr Howlin insisted it was a fundamentally fair deal.
“One of the Government’s prime objectives was to extract the money we need in a way that is fair and affects everybody to some degree, and to ensure it affects those who are best able to bear it the most.”
Mr Howlin said it was now a matter for workers in the public service to make their judgment. He asked TDs not use the House as “a bully pit in terms of charging one way or the other”.
He said the agreement had been negotiated openly over many weeks by professional, competent negotiators.