TEN days on from the launch of Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin's document on public-sector reform, it is certainly hard to argue with its stated intent to radically reform how State services are provided.
Many reforms mentioned are common-sense proposals that should, and would, have been in place long ago in a properly functioning public sector. His document, light on detail, is far from perfect.
While Howlin has shown a steely determination to bring his document to fruition, one battle does not win the war.
He deserves to be commended on his work so far and supported in his efforts to drag the deeply dysfunctional public service into the 21st Century.
However, it is very easy to argue with the continued adherence to the illogical and grossly unfair Croke Park agreement, which guarantees that one of the most sheltered sectors in society remains insulated from the worst effects of Ireland's economic firestorm.
Such is the lunacy of that agreement that support for it within Fine Gael and Labour is fading fast, with many TDs telling me this weekend that they no longer see it as viable.
Some have gone further, saying it should be torn up immediately or Ireland will never emerge from its crippling budget deficit.
Since January 2008, when Ireland last posted a monthly exchequer surplus, €78bn has been added to the national debt just to maintain public services and to pay the wages of State employees.
The Croke Park deal -- signed by Brian Cowen's government in April 2010 -- which guarantees that public-sector pay will not be cut until 2014 and there will be no compulsory redundancies -- was a national disgrace.
When thousands of businesses were going to the wall, the government of the day saw fit to commit billions of our dwindling tax revenues to ensure that the longstanding cosy arrangement with the unions continued.
So it was a great disappointment when the new Fine Gael/Labour Government, on taking office in March, reaffirmed its commitment to Croke Park. The farce was allowed to continue.
Mr Howlin, for his part, has sought to use the cover of Croke Park to drive his reform agenda. He feels it is better to do things by consensus, rather than confrontation.
The only problem is that from listening to him you would assume that the private sector and the public sector were coming from equal starting points.
They most certainly are not. The Central Statistics Office recently reported that the pay differential between public and private sectors was more than 40 per cent in favour of State employees.
The Institute of Public Administration, in a report earlier this month, showed that top-level managers in the Irish civil service are the third-highest-paid in Europe.
Since this Government has taken office, the commitment to protect pay by Mr Howlin has been absolute while the civil service's commitment to reform has been anything but.
Even Mr Howlin himself pointed the finger at senior and middle managers, who he said have stymied the reform agenda.
So why is he willing to continue to guarantee pay when reforms are being stymied?
Mr Howlin and the Government at large are desperate to maintain industrial peace at all costs. However, amid all the megaphone diplomacy, budget leaks and kite-flying of the past two weeks, with the harsh realities of budget cuts biting hard, major fault lines have emerged between Mr Howlin on one side and other ministers and backbenchers over the viability of the Croke Park deal.
Speaking this weekend, Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy said Croke Park should not be sacrosanct and should be torn up in the best interests of the economy.
He said: "This Government was elected to make decisions on what is necessary to improve the economy. If that means dismantling or tearing up Croke Park, so be it.
"The mandate for this Government was to make hard decisions, quickly. We are running out of time."
Mr Deasy said he and his colleagues were becoming increasingly disgruntled that so much of the spending budgets remained untouchable when €3.8bn had to be taken out of the economy.
"Whether it's raising VAT or increasing PRSI, we feel that money should be found within existing budgets. We have a faltering economy and we can't tax it to death. Even if it means bringing government back to bare bones, dismantling Croke Park to allow the economy to recover should be considered," he said.
Another prominent Fine Gael TD said that the reduction in numbers proposed by Mr Howlin did not go anywhere near far enough.
The TD also said that many within Fine Gael were unhappy about having to defend unpalatable measures because of Croke Park.
"The economy has shrunk by 25 per cent. We should be talking about a 100,000 cut in numbers. We are very pissed off that we are being forced into positions because of Croke Park.
"It is a fantasy document and has no basis in reality. Sooner or later, it will come crashing down," the TD said.
Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health, Fine Gael's Jerry Buttimer, also said the long-term viability of Croke Park was now in question, given the impact of the moratorium on the health sector in particular.
He also said he was concerned about the six-figure severance pay-offs to top civil servants.
"The health system is not working. We need to look at Croke Park in the long term. Things need to change, the country is in a new situation. Those at the top need to bring about real change," he said.
A large number of Fine Gael TDs share the anger voiced by those above but declined to speak on the record, a clear sign of how powerful the public-sector lobby is.
However, it is increasingly clear that Fine Gael TDs realise Ireland can no longer be held to ransom by public-sector unions or by cosseted senior members of the public service who have become accustomed to pay grades that this country can't afford.
According to senior government sources, discussions are likely to be held about the viability of Croke Park once the Budget has been completed. There is a growing belief that due to forecasts of lower economic growth in 2012, the deal will have to be abandoned.
Ultimately, in order to achieve his stated reform objectives, Mr Howlin will have to defeat the culture within the public service that opposes change at all costs.
He has repeatedly highlighted that middle and senior managers have not embraced the reform agenda strongly enough.
The time has long since gone for Croke Park to be abandoned -- and now many within the Government parties realise that too.