Privileged the most resistant to change, says Howlin

‘Extraordinary’ sense of entitlement in some sectors

The most resistant people to change and reform during the economic crisis have been the most privileged, Minister for Public Expenditure

Brendan Howlin




However, Mr Howlin declined to say who he was referencing in the comments he made to the Labour Party conference at the weekend.

“I’ll have to wait to write my book,” he said during a seminar on Labour’s “agenda for reform and recovery”.

“The most resistant group I have come across are the most privileged. There is a sense of entitlement in some cohorts, which is absolutely extraordinary.”

In the absence of any proper debates or votes on motions, delegates attended a number of seminars held by the party's Ministers, such as Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte and Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.

However, Mr Howlin was told by Galway city councillor Colette Connolly she could not defend cuts in public service numbers while canvassing for the local elections in the coming months.

She also criticised the abolition of town councils and inadequate inspection of rented properties, but Mr Howlin said he didn’t come into politics to be a Minister who cut public services numbers, adding the country could not spend money it did not have.

He also said nobody would have solved the crisis in a fairer way than Labour had in the last three years.

He prompted a round of applause when he said he didn't want "the Celtic Tiger back, its crudeness and vulgarity".

He also said a portion of the money from the sale of State assets will go towards paying for flood and storm damage repairs but warned that the Government cannot be profligate even though the country has exited the bailout.

Another delegate questioned Mr Howlin on the position of Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher, and said the Government should take a tougher line on his pay.

The Minister said that although the Government could not control pay in the private sector, it had brought down salaries across the public sector.