Thousands of frontline workers rally to oppose proposed Croke Park cuts

Breda Heffernan

Published 18/02/2013|18:07

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Protesters during a national rally by the 24/7 frontline services alliances at the National Basketball Arena, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Protesters during a national rally by the 24/7 frontline services alliances at the National Basketball Arena, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

MORE than 2,500 guards, nurses and prison officers voiced their opposition to any further pay cuts at a mass rally at the Basketball Arena in Tallaght tonight.

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The 24/7 Frontline Alliance, which represents some 70,000 public sector workers, said the national rally was the start of its campaign to protect their members' pay and allowances.

John Redmond, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, said his members have already played their part and warned any further erosion of their pay will cut morale.

"It's not my job and never could be my job to negotiate pay and allowances downwards," he said adding it was "strange" that the major unions in Ireland appear to be doing just that.

"When the general public and their families are safely tucked up in bed, our members are out...maybe pulling a teenager from a crashed car, maybe running in a burning house to save somebody's life, or maybe responding to a suicide and attending the scene.

"And all the while our families are at home in their beds fearful for our lives," he told the rally.

Seamus Murphy, deputy general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, said it was "incomprehensible" that other trade unions were "in cahoots" with the Government to break the original Croke Park deal which secured public sector workers' pay and allowances.

He accused the Government of reneging on the original pay deal "with the complicity of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions".

Meanwhile, PJ Stone, general secretary  of the Garda Representative Association accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of "threatening" frontline workers into accepting cuts to their allowances by saying he will legislate if they are rejected.

"We are threatened every day of the week in the jobs that we do and we have never flinched," he said.

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