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Sunday 21 September 2014

Paschal Donohoe denies charges he is 'anti-union'

Emma Jane Hade

Published 15/08/2014 | 02:30

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Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe with Eimear Kearns (18), a member of Cabra for Youth Art Group. Photo: Damien Eagers

TRANSPORT Minister Paschal Donohoe has denied that his stance in the ongoing Irish Rail dispute is "anti-union", and is pleading with all parties involved in the process to ensure the proposed four days of strike action don't go ahead.

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Mr Donohoe has been accused by Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley as "relishing the opportunity to strike some sort of macho Fine Gael anti-union pose in the media".

However, Mr Donohoe has refuted this claim and said that he is "absolutely not anti-union in any way".

"I recognise the extraordinary role that our unions have played in allowing our country to work through the horrendous difficulty of recent years," he said.

He was speaking yesterday at Broombridge train station in Dublin, where a new street art installation was launched in conjunction with a Cabra community youth group in a bid to give the station a revamp and to alleviate anti-social behaviour there.

Mr Donohoe appealed to all the parties involved in the ongoing dispute within the organisation to ensure that the proposed four days of strike action in protest to the Labour Court cost-cutting recommendations "does not go ahead".

The National Bus & Rail Workers Union recently announced that its members in Irish Rail will participate in a 48-hour work stoppage starting on August 24, as well as 24-hour strikes on September 7 and 21 - key dates in the GAA calendar which will bring thousands to the capital.

SIPTU has also indicated that its members will participate in a one-day work stoppage on August 25.

"I really appreciate how difficult it is to ask people to vote to cut their own wages, I appreciate the difficulty and stress that it causes people, but these are measures that have now been implemented across the rest of our public and civil service," he said.

"Irish Rail has accumulated losses now of nearly €150m, in a recent financial year it had losses of nearly €17m. The only reason these measures are going ahead is to deliver a company and a service that continues to provide all it needs to the people of Ireland and to ensure its viability."

Mr Donohoe reiterated that any strike action would be "extremely damaging" to the fragile organisation, and that nobody was to blame for the current situation as "everybody has contributed in some way".

Irish Rail said that it is satisfied with the Transport Minister's level of involvement and is keeping him informed.

"It is our responsibility, ultimately. We've attempted to agree this through negotiation and now it has come to us and we have taken the initiative to implement this," the spokesperson added.

Mr Donohoe also said that he is fully in favour of a directly elected Lord Mayor for the capital, despite the fact that his Cabinet colleague Alan Kelly was reported to have said that the position was unlikely to be introduced in the lifetime of this Government.

Irish Independent

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