Tuesday 21 January 2020

Talks, not picket lines, best way to push a cause

ASTI members protest outside the Dáil last week following a vote on industrial action. Photo: Arthur Carron
ASTI members protest outside the Dáil last week following a vote on industrial action. Photo: Arthur Carron

The danger of industrial deadlock is that if you do not take an active hand in producing results, the results will produce themselves. That is why a small amount of give in both the Garda and teaching disputes could cause a dramatic shift. It is evident from both stand-offs that a more dynamic mechanism for social dialogue needs to be established.

Yesterday, it seemed that a little more reason and less rigidity was discernible. The ASTI appeared open to some compromise and there were indications that there might be some extra funding for gardaí. Both sides are intent on making their point forcefully; but it is in the interests of all concerned that the impact is contained and does not do long-term damage.

If there was more focus on the overall outcome as opposed to locking on to obstacles, then dramatic progress could be made. Energies on all sides need to be concentrated on finding remedies as opposed to finding fault. Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny appealed to the gardaí not to allow lines be blurred.

The cause of law and order must be served without compromise. Its legitimacy must not be distorted by posturing, no matter how frustrated rank and file members may be. But trust is a two-way street, and the Government must recognise that gardaí need representation and grievances are real.

The ASTI's offer to temporarily suspend its planned withdrawal from supervision and substitution, which could lead to an indefinite closure of schools, speaks to a willingness to engage.

The picket line is not the best place to progress a cause. The reputation and respect which the gardaí have forged over generations of service is something to be admired and not taken for granted. Sometimes it may seem to be easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them. But burning bridges to the future out of resentment would be a retrograde step.

The founder of the police Robert Peel noted: "The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare." With due regard for "community welfare", common ground - found through negotiation - is the only place where any seeds of compromise can take.

Insurance hikes seem to defy all known reason

Even Isaac Newton would be confounded by our gravity-defying insurance premiums which go up and up, yet never appear to come down.

The latest blow to motorists came yesterday, with the announcement that the average motor premium would increase by €130 by the middle of next year.

The bad news was delivered by credit rating agency Standards & Poor’s (S&P). In total, drivers are paying €900 a year for cover at the moment. There is worse to come before there is any respite as another hike of 10-15pc is on the cards by the middle of 2017.

They blame a Government move to let the Circuit Court handle higher-value claims for fuelling the hopes and expectations of claimants. Soaring legal costs and delays in settling personal injury claims also ratchet up costs.

Yet Conor O’Brien of the Injuries Board is adamant that there has been no big rise in claims or awards that would justify rises of 70pc in the average premium in the last three years. Meanwhile, the State’s competition watchdog has said it is probing suspected cartel activity in the insurance industry. Whatever the causes are, we need to know, and know quickly. Open season on the driver can not continue indefinitely.

Irish Independent

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