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Croke Park the 'most successful social contract in State's history' - Labour Minister

Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, has insisted the agreement on public sector pay and reform is delivering amid growing calls for it to be re-examined.

Joe Costello (File photo)
Joe Costello (File photo)
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

LABOUR PARTY MINISTER Joe Costello has said that the Croke Park Agreement is the ‘most successful social contract in the history of the State’.

The Minister for Trade and Development has issued a statement this afternoon in response to what he said were “short-sighted and irresponsible” calls for the the agreement on public sector pay and reform to be torn up.

Earlier, his fellow Minister Leo Varadkar said the government was committed to the agreement, which runs until the end of next year, but said that negotiations about extending it or formulating a successor to it would need to happen ‘within six to eight months if not sooner’.

Ahead of December’s Budget pressure is growing from many including backbench Fine Gael TDs for the agreement, which guarantees rates of pay for public sector workers, to be re-examined.

But Costello said today in a statement: “The Croke Park Agreement is the most successful social contract in the history of the State considering the enormous austerity measures contained therein.

“Yet there are constant calls for compulsory redundancies an immediate restructuring of the Agreement and indeed for the Agreement to be torn up.

“These calls are short-sighted and irresponsible in the context of the Progamme of Government and more particularly in the context of exiting the Troika Programme and regaining our economic sovereignty.”

‘Public service reduced’

He cited the second progress report published by the Croke Park Agreement Implementation Body in June which said that the agreement had been effective in delivering a reduction in the number of people working in the public service, restructuring and maintaining industrial peace.

Costello said: “Public service numbers have reduced by 28,000 since 2008 from 320,000 to 292,000 in 2012.  Meanwhile the number of staff in the public sector in Northern Ireland is in excess of 230,000.

“Northern Ireland is an administrative unit of only six counties compared to the twenty-six county Republic which is more than four times greater in size.

“Likewise the Exchequer pay-bill has been reduced from €17.5 billion to €14.4 billion or €3.1 billion between 2009 and 2012.

“The Report details extensive productivity and efficiencies in Education, Health, Defence, the Prison and Garda Síochána Service, Civil, State Agencies and Local Government.”

Earlier today: Croke Park talks needed in ‘six to eight months if not sooner’ – Varadkar

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Hugh O'Connell

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