It's not just about pay: let's involve public servants in spending decisions
Some 507 schools across Ireland were closed yesterday. Next week, 564 garda stations look likely to also lie empty. The tragedy is that it didn't need to be like this. I spent five difficult years as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. During that time, I negotiated the Haddington Road Agreement, which saw further reductions to public sector pay. When things improved, I negotiated the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which began the process of pay restoration for all public servants.
As pointed out in this newspaper yesterday, that agreement included a framework that allowed for a new deal for young firefighters to be put in place, which served as a template for similar deals with teachers, along with an offer that remains on the table for young gardaí.
Those five years saw our public servants make an extraordinary contribution to putting our economy back on track.