A SENIOR union leader who saw social partnership go from boom to bust is set to retire.
Peter McLoone will step down from his position as general secretary of the country's largest public sector union, Impact, this summer.
Just before the Budget, he almost persuaded the Taoiseach to embrace a controversial plan to avoid a €1bn public sector pay cut.
In his role as chairman of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' Public Services Committee, he advocated that public servants get two weeks' unpaid leave rather than take a pay cut.
The proposal was initially backed by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, but was dramatically rejected just days before the Budget.
Mr McLoone was also in the spotlight as chairman of the FAS board, which resigned following allegations of excessive spending at the employment agency.
It is understood that he will leave his position at Impact following the union's biennial conference in May.
Advertisements for the position of general secretary designate for the union were placed in yesterday's national media.
Although outside candidates are invited to apply, sources said deputy general secretary Shay Cody is hotly tipped to take over the role.
The position will be ratified by delegates at the Impact conference.
Mr McLoone has held the position of general secretary of the union since 1996, when he replaced Phil Flynn.
He has previously said he would retire at 60, which he will reach in a few months.
The union leader has been described as a "high priest" of social partnership over the last two decades.
He is still expected to play a role in the union movement's strategy following the collapse of the process before Christmas.
A native of Ballyshannon in Donegal, he began his career in 1969 as a psychiatric nurse at Saint Luke's Hospital in Clonmel.
He became assistant general secretary of the Impact forerunner, the Local Government and Public Services Union in 1978.
He was president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions from 2006 to 2008 and a director of the board of Beaumont Hospital from 1988 to 1999.
Mr McLoone is a member of the Labour Relations Commission and long-standing representative for the ICTU on the National Economic and Social Council.