THE government minister Lucinda Creighton has claimed the high-profile chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), Kieran Mulvey, is "compromised'' when it comes to public comments on the Croke Park Agreement by his own status as a major beneficiary of the benchmarking process.
Ms Creighton was responding to Mr Mulvey's critique earlier last week of "a junior minister making pronouncements on half-a-dozen issues".
It's believed this referred to an interview in which Ms Creighton expressed concerns about the Croke Park Agreement.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, an incandescent Ms Creighton said that the chairperson of the LRC "does not have the right to tell politicians or political parties what they should say or think''. She said he was "over-reaching his position" and should "concentrate on what he is actually supposed to be doing".
"Croke Park is not some sacred text that cannot be commented on and criticised,'' she said.
"It is a bit rich for someone who was as cosseted as he was by benchmarking to state the Croke Park Agreement is un-breakable,'' she added. And she warned that this relationship "compromises his independence and leaves him open to the suggestion that he has a coloured perspective''.
It is believed Ms Creighton was referring to Mr Mulvey's own submission to the benchmarking process of 2008 where the LRC head secured a 14 per cent salary increase
A report entitled, 'Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector', which was published by the Department of Finance in 2008, noted that in his submission to the benchmarking process of 2008 Mr Mulvey had complained that it had been "agreed in 2002 that his post would be examined by the Review Body but that he had not anticipated that a review would not take place until 2008''.
Mr Mulvey also "expressed the view that it is inappropriate to have the salary of the chief executive of the LRC fixed at the level of a deputy secretary" and he "suggested that the post of chief executive of the LRC should be compared with the more demanding posts of chief executives of Group A non-commercial state-sponsored bodies (such as FAS, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland) examined by the Review Body in last year's general review''.
The report noted it had recommended "a salary of €198,000 for the chairman of the Labour Court on the basis of the arrangements applicable to persons appointed since April 6, 1995 making an employee contribution in respect of personal superannuation benefits''.
But since "the chief executive of the LRC was appointed before April 6, 1995, and does not make an employee contribution in respect of personal superannuation benefits, a salary equivalent to 19/20ths of this amount would be appropriate'' and "accordingly, the rate to apply to the chief executive should be €188,100''.
Ms Creighton's comments are likely to act as a catalyst for greater tensions between a Labour Party that is believed to be ideologically close to Mr Mulvey, and Fine Gael.
But Ms Creighton noted that "Mr Mulvey was a lot quieter during the boom years when benchmarking was increasing benefits for public servants in an unsustainable fashion. Mr Mulvey doesn't appear to have had anything to say back then''.
She did, however, also tell the Sunday Independent that "we want to work with Labour to renegotiate the deal''. However, she also warned that "the Croke Park deal is up for renewal and any new agreement will have to reflect the new economic realities".'
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