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Fate of Croke Park deal to be determined by Budget 2013

WHETHER there's a Croke Park II or a rejigged Croke Park I will be determined by Budget 2013.

If the Government can stick to the commitment not to cut pay, then it leaves the door open to negotiating further reforms under the existing arrangement or a successor agreement.

The Coalition has gone out of its way to maintain an agreement it didn't negotiate in the first place.

It has taken a lot of flak for not going after a pay cut, continuing to pay increments and largely honouring existing allowances.

The point all along is there has been a return for the economy in the form of co-operation on the implementation of reforms and industrial relations harmony.

The trade unions movement leadership's aversion to direct reductions in gross pay means there's an opportunity to continue to use that carrot and stick approach -- "avoid pay cuts by reforming".

The assumption that any revision to Croke Park or a successor deal will start out with a cut to pay is misguided.

More likely, it will be the last item on the agenda, only examined after every other means to reduce the cost of the public sector have been exhausted.

And increments, allowances, numbers and compulsory redundancies would certainly be higher up on the agenda.

Avoiding an actual pay cut would be an enormous ask, especially with a new deal negotiated from scratch.

But it would present the Government with an opportunity to ram through any long-term reforms it believes are necessary -- not just possible.

Irish Independent