Howlin urged to ‘put flesh on bones’ of pay forum proposal

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin call on Government to clarify details on pay and tax plans

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has been urged to put “flesh on the bones” of his proposed open forum to consider pay and tax levels. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath has called on Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin to put "flesh on the bones" of his proposed open forum to consider pay and tax levels.

Mr McGrath said the Dáil should be the main location for any discussion on overall spending priorities.

“Mr Howlin needs to put some flesh on the bones. We remain open-minded, but haven’t enough detail,” he said.

“Obviously we always support dialogue. That dialogue should principally be taking place within the houses of parliament. We have Dáil Éireann as the primary place where debates on taxation and expenditure policy should be taking place.”


Mr McGrath was speaking at Leinster House on Tuesday after briefing reporters on a Fianna Fáil Bill which he said proposed removing a “bank veto” on restructuring family home mortgages.

Senior Coalition figures say such a forum is likely to take place in open sessions over a set period, and would not be a return to the behind-closed-doors talks of the social partnership era.

Sinn Féin call

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald also called for clarification on the issue from the Government.

“Let’s see what it’s about, but let’s just remind Brendan Howlin that if he wants an inclusive forum, if he’s inviting people in, he does actually have to listen to others,” she said.

“If he wants to have a discussion about fair taxation it can’t be simply on their terms,” she added.

She was speaking in Dublin on Tuesday at the launch of the clár ahead of her party’s ardfheis in Derry on Friday and Saturday.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Features Editor of The Irish Times