Notes on Meetings with Opposition Politicians 1: Jimmy Deenihan (FG)

8 Feb

On Friday February 5th representatives of the KPSWA met with Fine Gael TD for Kerry North Jimmy Deenihan. Representatives from the TUI, PSEU, GRA, IMPACT and SIPTU summarised their opposition to the public service cuts with emphasis on

  • the unfairness of these attacks on public service workers, who are being expected to bear the brunt of the hardship resulting from failed government economic policies
  • the hardship being inflicted on these workers, many of whom earn less than the average industrial wage
  • the damage being done by fomenting divisions between Irish public and private sector workers
  • the corrosive effect of a relentless one-sided propaganda war being waged against public services

In addition, and of particular importance to local politicians, it was pointed out that current government economic policy is entirely focused on the east coast of the country where there is a concentration of large private sector employers. This has meant that regions such as Kerry are being disproportionately hit by these unprecedented attacks and that, as a consequence, the local economy is being eviscerated.

In response, Deputy Deenihan said that he welcomed the formation of alliances such as the KPSWA, that it represented a positive democratic development and that politicians needed to meet with such groups to hear their views on the current crises.

He accepted that most public service workers are not well off, and maintained that it was not Fine Gael policy that public service workers shoulder the burden of economic hardship. On the basis of public pronouncements made by FG spokespersons, this last assertion was challenged by the KPSWA members present and it was pointed out that FG policy on slashing the public sector was almost identical to that of Fianna Fail.

To refute this, Deputy Deenihan offered to bring Finance spokesman Deputy Richard Bruton to Kerry to meet with the group and explain FG policy. The KPSWA members present accepted this offer, and pointed out that if FG, or indeed any other political party, were to commit itself to reversing the public service pay cuts that, come the next general election, they would have the active support of public service workers. On the other hand, any party which supported these attacks on the public service would face determined and organised opposition at the ballot box.

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