Irish Minister for Environment John Gormley has said we “have a type of civil war in this country between the private and public sectors”.
Minister Gormley also asked public service unions “do we take cuts, or is it a case of having your cheques bounce because we’ve nearly got to that stage”.
The Minister was speaking on Lunchtime with Eamon Keane on Irish Newstalk 106-108fm:
“I don’t want to get into any sort of divisive row with the trade unions. We already have a type of civil war in this country between the private and public sectors and I don’t want to exacerbate that any further. But it is clear now that we are coming into a difficult budget. We have to make difficult decisions.
“I hope, I genuinely hope that we can continue with social partnership…. And I would say to people who are representing the public sector, do we take cuts, or is it a case of having your cheques bounce because we’ve nearly got to that stage and those people who believe that it’s impossible, that we could go on, that we could continue to borrow that amount of money and not face dire consequences down the road are not living in the real world I’m afraid.”
Minister Gormley outlined the gap between the private and public sectors: “I’ve never seen such divisiveness in my time in politics and it’s very regrettable. You’re getting this clear break down the middle. I don’t believe frankly it’s healthy. I don’t believe we have a public sector Ireland and a private sector Ireland; we have one Ireland where we need to work together, all of us. If we go down this particular route and say well, we’re looking after our section of society, it becomes a sectoral war and it’s not going to lead to the sort of consensus that is now required. That’s that partnership was originally about, getting that consensus. That consensus seems to be gone out the window at this stage.”
Eamon Keane asked if Minister Gormley believes the partnership model is outdated:
“I genuinely hope that it’s not. I think it has served us well if you go back to the genesis of partnership during the bad times, got us through the bad times, we went through the boom and I acknowledge that the partnership model did made mistakes, there were mistakes made undoubtedly, but we have to now rectify those mistakes, continue with the model and ensure that we can get the country back up and running. Because if we are facing the prospect of strikes…it is a winter of discontent we’re looking at. That is going to create instability, and it will not help us get the economy or society back on the road.”
Minister Gormley also said the concerns that some backbenchers express are “unrealistic”:
“Well of course you’re going to get resistance. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, it will happen. We are going to deal with the drink driving situation. Minister Dempsey is committed; I said I’m fully supportive of the measures he wants to take. Regardless of what individual backbenchers say, they feel they are duty bound to express certain concerns of their constituents, I think frankly that some of those concerns are just not realistic.
“People can go down to the pub and they don’t have to drink alcohol. This idea, this is such an old notion frankly, this idea that you can get into a car and drive, and in some cases it’s been said that they can drive even better if they have a drink in them, I don’t accept that. I’ve never accepted that. People have to act responsibly and in my view you’re better off having no alcohol at all before you get behind the wheel.”