Lenihan 'disappointed' by strike


MINISTER FOR Finance Brian Lenihansaid he was “deeply disappointed” by yesterday’s public sector strike.

“This action is causing serious disruption and inconvenience to the public . . . as well as wider economic loss across the State at this critical time in our country’s history,” he said.

He praised those who had remained at work to cope with the flooding crisis. “I do not believe that the action today in any way advances the possibility of finding an agreement about managing the public service pay cost,” he said.

The Minister said that the State would this year borrow an estimated €22 billion to fill the gap between revenue and spending on services. “That is €420 million each week,” he added.

Mr Lenihan said one-third of day- to-day voted expenditure was spent on public sector pay, while 38 per cent was spent on social welfare.

Mr Lenihan said that there had been reductions in the cost of essentials such as food and rent.

Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Brutonsaid the anger and frustration of people in the public sector was understandable.

There was a sense, he said, that those who had been at the core of creating the crisis had not been brought to book in the regulatory, banking and political systems.

Mr Bruton said there was no Government explanation of how pain now could actually resolve the problems of the economy.

Labour spokeswoman Joan Burtoncriticised the denigration of public service staff on the radio.

“It seems to me, at times, that there are those who rather intemperately seek a kind of propaganda hate war to divide public and private sectors,” she added.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmoresaid that the strike could and should have been averted.

“The staff of the State are on strike today, because of the unfair way they have been treated by the Fianna Fáil government; because they are sick and tired of being belittled . . . and because Fianna Fáil has cynically failed to negotiate a way of avoiding the strike.”

Mr Gilmore accused Fianna Fáil of colluding in the belittling of public servants.

“For months, there was been a sustained campaign of ballyragging, abuse and denigration targeted at the public sector,” he said.