Mapping a slump . . . Dr Ed Walsh urges radical action
Published 16/10/2010 | 05:00
ACADEMIC Dr Ed Walsh (right) challenged the Government yesterday to show some "bottle" and make more than €23bn savings on public sector spending.
The founding president of University of Limerick warned that if the Government failed to tackle the financial problems "bricks will be thrown through windows."
In a blunt speech, he called on the Government to face down the trade unions and cut public sector pay levels to those in Northern Ireland.
"If it was to benchmark public servants' pay to those in Northern Ireland we could save €15bn, and if we were to bring key social welfare benefits down to those in Northern Ireland we would save a further €8bn a year," he added.
The keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Society of Chartered Surveyors, Dr Walsh said: "Everyone in the public sector is paid too much including myself -- 20pc more than the private sector."
"Teachers unions criticise the lack of spending on school facilities but their unions have managed to divert €5.5bn of the €6bn education budget into their members' bank accounts. Yet school performance had dropped 15pc."
Pointing to the daft situation where eight government bodies regulate the labour market, the called on the Government to face down the unions and simplify the labour regulations to make Ireland more attractive to attract overseas businesses.
He also castigated "crazy" energy policy and plans to spend €22bn on decarbonising the ESB at a time when we should be reducing energy costs to improve competitiveness.
"The ESB of course can turn off the lights so we shouldn't criticise them but agency workers should be hired to take on the ESB," he added. He also called on the Government to increase gas usage as global gas prices have halved.
Slating the lack of talent in Government, he called for a general election to elect a national government which would include two non-elected people from the business sector.