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As it happened: Enda faced questions on strikes, public pay, and what exactly false imprisonment means

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was back in the hot seat for Leader’s Questions this week.

This afternoon saw Dáil Éireann play host to another edition of Leader’s Questions.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny once more had the floor.

Here’s how it all went down.

First up is Micheál Martin. He wants to talk about the ASTI and the pending teachers strike.


He’s been watching Claire Byrne Live. He wants a “categoric articulation” that the government is committed to full restoration of teachers’ pay once the Lansdowne Road Agreement expires, in agreement with what Fine Gael minister Damien English was saying on the RTÉ programme last night.

So, is it official government policy?

Enda is up for his first reply of the day.

“The deal that’s on offer to the ASTI will see pay increases of between 15% and 22% for new entrants to the teaching profession,” he says.


Enda says that “sensitive talks are taking place”. He hopes that the strikes can be called off.

“I do not propose to deal with this issue on the floor of the house, suffice it to say that fairness is central to Minister Bruton’s talks.”

“So why was Damien English happy to talk about it then?” Micheál snaps back.

“So is it official Government policy? Or was Minister English winging it Taoiseach?” Micheál persists.

Enda’s not having any of it though, and blusters through a response without really saying one way or the other.

Now it’s Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’ turn.


“You are failing to address the ongoing industrial dissent being seen,” he says.

Gerry wants a “roadmap to full pay restoration”. It’s a phrase that has been heard quite a bit recently.

The Taoiseach is talking about the gardaí now and their ongoing pay discussions.

He expresses his “disappointment” that the AGSI (Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors) having voted to strike with their rank-and-file colleagues.

“Does anyone want to see 12,500 gardaí go on strike?” the Taoiseach asks. It’s a rhetorical question.

“You’ve outlined the difficulties Taoiseach, but you have to be a problem-solver Taoiseach,” says the Sinn Féin leader.

It’s all a bit sleepy in the Dail chamber at the moment, no one has really flexed their muscles yet.

Now Adams wants to know will gardaí be given “access to the industrial action mechanism”. At present gardaí are not strictly speaking legally allowed to strike.

“There can be no question of making allowances for anyone outside the Lansdowne Road Agreement Deputy Adams,” the Taoiseach replies.


Labour’s Brendan Howlin now wants to talk about the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

He describes the prospect of a full Garda strike as “horrendous” and says his party has “solutions to these problems, that will accelerate pay restoration for all public servants”.


“Were you or your department in engagement with the NESC with regard to finding an industrial peace,” he asks of the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach has a rotten cough on him, God bless him.

“I am more concerned about the immediacy of making progress in the very sensitive issues in dealing with the GRA, AGSI, and ASTI,” he says.

Everything that can be done will be done Deputy Howlin.

“Nobody wants to see this happen,” he says with regard to the looming industrial action in Ireland’s public services.

Enda says that FEMPI (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015) will be one of the first things dealt with by the new Public Pay Commission.

Howlin’s rebuttal now: “It’s clear for anyone who is used to observing industrial relations in this country that the Government is sleepwalking towards disaster.”

Taoiseach, will you again consider as a government, reopening negotiations with all public sector unions with regard to a new public sector pay agreement?

“It’s understood that we have to have a successor to Lansdowne Road Agreement, but there has to be a strategy to that succession,” replies Enda.

Believe me, the government want this situation not to take place in terms of these strikes.

That sentence is a little confusing Taoiseach.

Uh oh.

Paul Murphy of the AAA/PBP is up now, and he wants to talk about the conviction of a schoolboy regarding the false imprisonment of Joan Burton at the Jobstown protest in November 2014.

The Leas Ceann Comhairle Pat “The Cope” Gallagher jumps in and tells Murphy to “speak carefully”.


The Leas Ceann Comhairle is now officially not happy.

“Please avoid being specific Deputy, and focus on issues of public policy!” he says.

“Be general Deputy!”

“I’m not Leas Ceann Comhairle,” Murphy insists.

He changes tack.

This goes far beyond the right of people to protest. This is a threat to right of Trade Unions to picket, to anti-war activists to protest.

Can I ask then, does the Taoiseach think that charges of false imprisonment can in future be brought against trade union pickets and other protests?

In October 2014 farmers blockaded meat factories. Agree or disagree with their actions, but should they be constituted as false imprisonment? What about student protests?

Taoiseach, do you think that protest should be criminalised and treated as false imprisonment.

“Be general in your reply Taoiseach,” says the beleaguered Leas Ceann Comhairle.

Enda duly obliges and says very little indeed in response.

“Are the blocking of roads to be allowed as protest, or are they not to be allowed?” Murphy asks again.

“It is a matter for the judiciary as to the application of the law,” replies the Taoiseach.

Peaceful protest has of course always been allowed in Ireland. If you want to go about your business however, you should not be prevented from so doing.

And that’s your lot for this week. Enda is off the hook and Regina Doherty stands to read out the Order of Business.

Thanks for reading, see you all next week.

20/9/2013. Culture Festivals Nights Laura Hutton / Laura Hutton / /

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