State facing 'social conflict' - Gilmore


The country is facing a time of “unprecedented social conflict and disruption” unless the Taoiseach shows leadership and widens the agenda for partnership talks, Eamon Gilmore of the Labour party said.

“Deep divisions” are opening up in Irish society and attempts are being made to drive a wedge between public sector and private sector workers, the party leader told the annual conference of Labour Youth in the Mansion House Dublin last night.

He said Friday’s huge turnout of both public and private sector workers at the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s (Ictu) national day of protest showed “workers are not going to lie down and meekly accept being singled out by Fianna Fáil and the Greens”.

“The Government is saying that the €4billion that needs to be found in this budget must be achieved by targeting those on social welfare; those who work in the public service; and those who are dependent on public services.

“This is not ‘all sharing the pain’, but the selective targeting of particular groups in society. There has to be a better and fairer way to rescue the country from economic ruin.

"If the government persists in this course of action, it is clear that we are heading for a period of serious industrial strife.”

Mr Gilmore called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to personally take charge of the situation and to widen the agenda for partnership talks.

He said talks should be based on five points: getting people back to work; guarantee over home repossessions for people with mortgage repayments; a fair and equitable budget; public sector wage cuts through reforms and savings; a commitment from trade unions of no industrial action should these actions take place.

"People want to work together to achieve economic recovery and not to rip each other apart,” Mr Gilmore concluded.