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Varadkar labelled a ‘Thatcherite Minister’ by Labour TD

Patrick Nulty, who lost the Labour whip last December, has said he always opposed the party going into government with Fine Gael and criticised Leo Varadkar’s comments about public sector pay increments.

Patrick Nulty at the Labour Party conference earlier this year
Patrick Nulty at the Labour Party conference earlier this year
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE LABOUR TD who lost the party whip after voting against the last budget has labelled Transport Minister Leo Varadkar a ‘Thatcherite Minister’ over his comments about the Croke Park Agreement earlier this week.

Patrick Nulty said that Varadkar was “completely wrong” in suggesting earlier this week that pay increments for staff in the public sector should be deferred for a year.

He also told TheJournal.ie that he had always been opposed to the idea of the Labour Party being in government with Fine Gael despite running as a Labour candidate last October prior to losing the whip in the Dáil just 40 days later.

“It deflects from real issue and real choices that government has to make in terms of how we bridge the fiscal deficit,” the Dublin West TD said this week in response to Varadkar’s comments about increments and the Croke Park Agreement on public sector pay and performance.

Nulty said that over half of all public sector workers who were entitled to an increment last year were at or below the clerical officer grade level where annual salary starts at €23,000.

“Suspending increments to these low paid workers is a cynical exercise from a Thatcherite Minister and is totally unacceptable given that these workers are struggling with mortgage repayments and unfair household charges,” he said.

Nulty said that while he remains a committed member of the Labour Party he was against the economic policies of the government which he believes are “hurting businesses and our economy”.

I opposed the Labour Party entering the coalition with Fine Gael from the outset. I was always sceptical about Fine Gael controlling the Department of Finance and that they would be able to adopt a balanced approach to the economy.

Asked why he ran for the party in the Dublin West by-election last October when he was opposed to the coalition government from the outset, Nulty said: “I ran as Labour Party candidate selected by the members in Dublin West.

“I am an active member of Labour Party and there is a space for diversity of opinion. There’s absolutely no contradiction in terms of having a different view,” he insisted adding that he “shared the fundamental values of the party”.

Nulty said that the government need to introduce a new third rate of tax on those earning over €100,000 per annum, saying that this would be the best way to deal with anyone in the public sector who is earning high sums and getting increments this year.

“I think that the best way to deal with people who are high earners is through the tax system. That is the most straightforward,” he said.

Despite having the Labour whip removed from him after voting against the Budget last December, Nulty hopes to return to the fold in the future but says that he fundamentally disagrees with the “provocative” and “inflammatory” comments from Varadkar and will continue to speak out against policies he disagrees with.

Asked if he would ever consider joining the United Left Alliance, Nulty said: “I’m very much a member of Labour Party and wouldn’t consider joining the ULA. I hope to be back in the parliamentary party but I’m totally opposed to blunt austerity.”

He said that he thought Labour Party ministers were working “very hard” in government and hoped that they would look at taxing the higher paid. He added: “I speak to Labour Party colleagues everyday”.

Read: Howlin insists: If Unions keep Croke Park commitments, we’ll keep ours

Read: Public sector pay increments should be deferred, says Varadkar

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Hugh O'Connell

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