Tuesday 21 November 2017

Time for double U-turn over pay cuts at the top

If the Government cannot deliver on Budget promises, then this latest roll-over signals more surrenders to come, says Alan Ruddock

Alan Ruddock

LAST Tuesday night the Fianna Fail parliamentary party was given a rare opportunity to inject some steel into the Government's spine. A motion from Mattie McGrath, the backbench TD, asked the Government to make a second U-turn on the pay cuts to be suffered by senior civil servants.

While U-turns are an accepted part of political life, the double U-turn -- a complete, 360-degree swivel back to the original position -- is a much rarer animal. After an apparently lacklustre debate, described by one TD as a "damp squib", the assembled parliamentarians accepted the assurances of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan that he was doing the right thing.

So they dismissed the motion -- "a handful were supportive of us," McGrath said, "but they weren't going to break any eggs" -- and handed the trade union movement another victory in the propaganda war that rages over the pay cuts across the public sector.

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