Sunday 4 December 2016

It's up to individual TDs if they want to take pay increase - Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald

Published 17/10/2016 | 14:03

Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

TÁNAISTE Frances Fitzgerald has disagreed with junior minister Finian McGrath's view that all TDs should forgo a planned pay increase next year.

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She has said that Mr McGrath - who won't be taking a planned pay increase himself  - has taken an "individual decision" and that other TDs should decide for themselves.

TDs are to get a €2,700 pay increase next year, and the same again in 2018 as part of a restoration of public service pay cuts.

It will see their pay go from €87,258 to €92,658.

Senior ministers have decided they won't be taking the pay increase due to them.

The Independent Alliance TD Mr McGrath - who is junior minister for disabilities but sits at Cabinet - will forgo a pay increase.

He said: "We have just come out of a major eight years of austerity and an economic crash and I think these are exceptional times and I think TDs and ministers should take their hit and stop whingeing."

Ms Fitzgerald however, said it's up to individual TDs if they intend to take the pay increase.

"Finian has taken an individual decision," she said, adding that "no doubt other TDs will".

Asked if she would encourage other TDs not to take the pay increase, she replied:

"I would say it's an individual decision."

She said that TDs' pay rises are linked to those of other public sector workers and that this is preferable to the old system that was in place.

"I think that's better for politics overall because before politicians were accused of giving themselves pay increases and that's not a good place to be."

Separately Ms Fitzgerald said that she still hopes Garda industrial action can be averted.

Both the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has threatened to take four days of strike action next month while the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) is meeting today to discuss potential industrial action in the row over pay.

"I want to find a negotiated way forward and that's my focus at present," Ms Fitzgerald said.

She added: "There were areas of common agreement in recent weeks.

"I want to build on those and attempt to find a negotiated way forward, a pathway that will satisfy the members of the GRA and AGSI."

She said she believes Gardaí should have access to the industrial relations dispute resolution mechanisms of the State.

"I have discussed this with both the GRA and AGSI that An Garda Síochána would have access to both the Labour Court and Workplace Relations Commission. I'm committed to ensuring that happens," Ms Fitzgerald said.

Ms Fitzgerald was speaking ahead of the launch of an Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Ireland.

She encouraged the public to be vigilant for signs that people have fallen victim to human trafficking and slave labour.

Between 2009 and 2015 more than 400 victims were identified by the Gardaí.

Ms Fitzgerald said the fight against "this despicable crime" remains an important priority for the force.

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