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FG TD's fury as Mulvey says Europe 'would love' Croke Park deal

LABOUR Relations Commission chief Kieran Mulvey was yesterday severely criticised by Government TD Simon Harris over his comments that other European countries would "love to have" a Croke Park deal like Ireland.

Mr Harris said it was "ironic in the extreme" that Mr Mulvey, an unelected official, would seek to silence politicians on the issue while taking to the airwaves yesterday to express his view.

Mr Mulvey recently criticised politicians, including junior minister Lucinda Creighton, for calling into question the controversial pay deal, and yesterday said other European countries like Spain, Greece and Portugal "would love to have" such a deal.

Speaking on RTE's Saturday with Claire Byrne, Mr Mulvey said other governments in Greece, Spain and Portugal would love to have a Croke Park agreement because the State has engaged with its own employees not only on pay and cost issues but about meeting the demands of the modern world.

However, Mr Harris, who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee and who has long been a critic of the deal in its current form, said Mr Mulvey has a cheek to make his comments after saying elected politicians should stay quiet on the issue.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Harris said: "No unelected official should ever tell a politician to keep schtum. Mr Mulvey previously espoused a view that it was unhelpful for ministers and politicians to state a view on Croke Park. I disagree with him and I find it ironic in the extreme that he feels he can take to the national airwaves and give his views.

"The last thing this country needs is a repeat of the past -- where politicians were silenced and the running of the country was left to unelected officials. Policy matters belong to the people of Ireland and are decided upon by their elected representatives."

Mr Mulvey said the initiative by the Government in recent months and the response of the unions probably indicated that the agreement would be revisited.

He said it would not be Croke Park two, but a revitalising of the deal to transform it into a more deliberate agreement over the next year.

Having been criticised by Mr Mulvey, Ms Creighton last month responded by saying he was "compromised'' when it came to public comments on the Croke Park Agreement by his own status as a major beneficiary of the benchmarking process.

Ms Creighton said that the LRC chairman "does not have the right to tell politicians 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.

Ms Creighton was referring to Mr Mulvey's submission to the 2008 benchmarking process, where the LRC head secured a 14 per cent pay rise.

Sunday Independent