Friday 9 December 2016

Ireland faces streets without gardaí and closed schools – Dáil is warned

Published 18/10/2016 | 14:59

Brendan Howlin. Photo: Collins
Brendan Howlin. Photo: Collins

Irish people face days without any gardaí on the streets and hundreds of closed schools, the former Public Expenditure Minister, Brendan Howlin has warned.

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The Labour leader warned that “hard won industrial peace is now at risk of unravelling” as bitter disputes involving gardaí and teachers risked spreading all across the public sector.

Mr Howlin said he had played a part in negotiating the Landsdowne Road Agreement which provided for phasing out emergency recession pay cuts. He urged the Government to negotiate a new replacement agreement to speed up the restoration of pay cuts to public servants.

The Labour leader said the decision of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors to follow rank and file members of the Garda Representative Association meant a full garda strike “in everything but name” for four days in November.

Meanwhile, “half-baked efforts” to provide replacement supervision in secondary schools arising from industrial action by the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland, would not work.

“All public sector unions are watching closely here,” Mr Howlin said as he urged a new approach across the public sector.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny agreed the situation was serious but he said problems relating to restoring pay cuts had been resolved with other teacher unions, TUI and INTO, as well as with nurses’ unions.

He urged both garda unions and the teachers’ unions to engage with their ministers.  “There is still an opportunity to deal with this matter,” Mr Kenny said.

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