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Simple fact is unions not blameless for mess we're in

Seamus Dooley (Letters, February 18) suggests that trade unions cannot be "lumped in with those responsible for wrecking the Irish economy".

While neither Fine Gael nor I have declared war on trade unions, as he claims, we have consistently pointed to the role of senior trade union officials in the sort of cosy deals which characterised social partnership in this country over the past fourteen years.

Decisions to increase pay and conditions for workers (particularly higher paid employees) in public sector positions, while failing to deliver the efficiencies and value for money which they committed to, has undoubtedly contributed in a major way to the massive deficit which now faces our country.

We could not afford the deals that were struck between Jack O Connor, David Begg and others with our former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. That is not an attack on trade unions, it is simply fact.

In addition, trade union leaders, who sit on a multitude of State Boards must accept the burden of responsibility for wreckless decisions taken while they sat on these very boards. Many of these Government appointments were extremely well paid.

One of Fine Gael's core values is that of social solidarity. I don't think we should be lectured by Mr Dooley, Jack O'Connor or any other senior protagonist in the trade union movement on the issue of workers or wages.

Where were these people over the past three years when 300,000 people lost their jobs and were forced to sign on to the live register? Where were they when Fas received a budget of €1bn per annum to deal with training and up-skilling at a time when the Government was boasting of zero unemployment rates? Where are the answers to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee questions arising from a €2.4bn slush fund which has yet to be accounted for by SIPTU?

Most of the people who visit my weekly clinics in the inner city are not interested in posturing by trade union leaders about pay deals, they are focused on trying to get off the dole, get back to work and start seeing a future for themselves and their children.

Lucinda Creighton TD (FG) (Dublin South-East)
Leinster House, Dublin 2.

Irish Independent