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Social Partnership

Report to blame social partnership for country's financial woes

Both the ICTU and Siptu have blasted suggestions that social partnership is to blame for Ireland’s financial crisis.

THE GENERAL SECRETARY of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg has defended social partnership after the Minister for Finance criticised the process in a report, which is due to be presented to the government shortly, RTÉ reports.

Brian Lenihan said today that social partnership caused “enormous damage” to the Irish financial system. He was referring to a report that identified social partnership and unrealistic promises given by politicians in the run-up to elections as major contributory factors to Ireland’s current financial problems.

The report is being carried out by an external consultancy group, and focuses on the workings of the Department of Finance.

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme (listen back), Lenihan said that the failings identified in the report would be addressed by the department – and added that this could lead to a significant overhaul of its current operational practices.

However, ICTU’s David Begg said:

I’m surprised by his comments in the context of a financial crisis facing the country which is pretty exclusively down to the failures in the banking system. The Irish banks were borrowing the equivalent of ten per cent of GDP in 2003; by 2008 they were borrowing 60 per cent abroad and feeding that into a property bubble here.

That’s the essence of it and now we’ve a €85 billion bill to handle, and we’re looking at a black hole situation when we don’t know how long it will take to get us out of this, so I’m quite surprised his remarks were made in that context.

Siptu President Jack O’Connor said that the minister was attempting “to divert attention from the responsibility he bears for the present mess by scapegoating the so-called ‘social partnership’ process”.

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