Saturday 3 December 2016

Rolling back 25 years to public versus private sector conflicts

Published 01/10/2016 | 02:30

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe speaking to the media yesterday Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe speaking to the media yesterday Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

When his career was on the rise, Bertie Ahern was seen as a 'Mr Strike-fixer'. The future Taoiseach, and eventual national anti-hero, had an adept conciliator's touch which he deftly deployed to help fix big and intractable disputes, including the ESB and Dublin Fire Brigade rows amongst others, during his term as Labour Minister from March 1987 until February 1992.

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The ironic side of things was that his colleague in the Finance Department for some of that time, Ray MacSharry, aka 'Mac the Knife', notorious for his public sector cutback regime, was less sure about "the Bert's heroics".

Just as MacSharry had his account books looking half-way straight, he had to find some extra money to fund public sector settlements. But the battered Irish economy stumbled its way along.

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