Diarmaid Ferriter: Ross on the doss is no keeper of Lemass flame

Minister is wrong: former taoiseach was a hard-working, interventionist politician

Seán Lemass: “He never abandoned the proposition that workers and employers were on the same side, despite appearances,” said Tom Garvin. Photograph: Dermot O’Shea

Seán Lemass: “He never abandoned the proposition that workers and employers were on the same side, despite appearances,” said Tom Garvin. Photograph: Dermot O’Shea

Minister Shane Ross is on the doss. Worse than that, he is distorting history in order to justify his indolence. He has piously insisted he will not intervene in the Bus Éireann dispute because he wishes to honour the legacy of Seán Lemass, who established new industrial relations machinery in 1946: “We should not undo his measured work and later, subsequent reforms. Accordingly, we should avoid embroiling Ministers in resolving industrial relations issues that would cut across the respective roles of the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.”

Lemass proposed the creation of workers’ councils so that unions and employers could combine to improve industrial management and performance

The Labour Court was indeed set up at the behest of Lemass as a novel attempt to regulate worker-employer disputes, with trade union co-operation. Fianna Fáil had deliberately, from its earliest days, targeted trade union and working class support and did so very successfully. Lemass also proposed the creation of workers’ councils so that unions and employers could combine to improve industrial management and performance.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.