Paschal Donohoe will not use 'taxpayer's chequebook' to solve Luas dispute

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Reporter

Acting Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has ruled out any Government intervention in the escalating Luas dispute.

It comes as Siptu head Jack O’Connor called on Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) director Kieran Mulvey to resign after accusing him of bias in the protracted dispute.

Minister Donohoe said he would not be opening up the “chequebook of the taxpayer” in a bid to solve the dispute.

Luas drivers will strike for another two days this weekend after workers voted against a deal which had been hammered out.

Speaking this afternoon Minister Donohoe said: “What I am not going to be doing is putting in place and intervention that will undermine the ability of these organisation to deal with industrial relations not just for transport but for every other issue and every other part of our economy, whether it be teachers, whether it be civil servants or whether it’s any other company in our country.

“The reality is the moment a Minister invites in union representatives to deal with an industrial relations matter; I fatally undermine the ability of our industrial relations organisations to do their job.

“The further thing I do is I open up the chequebook of the taxpayer to dealing with this matter and that is not going to happen.”

He said he was open to “any intervention” provided it is done through the industrial relation bodies which he said have his “active and full support”.

Minister Donohoe said: “Everybody needs to engage with them in an active and responsible manner.

“People need to take a wider step back and look at the consequences of what is under way we have potential immense disruption of the Luas service in the coming weeks, that is not acceptable to me as Minister for Transport,” he added.

Minister Donohoe said any solution that created additional cost for the Irish taxpayer was also unacceptable.

He added that Mr Mulvey and the WRC have his “full support”.

“I am not getting involved in the different claims that different individuals are making at the moment but I want to reiterate my full support for the Workplace Relations Commision, my full support for Kieran Mulvey and also to acknowledge that that is the same organisation and the same individual that unions of many different professions have successfully engaged with over recent years including Siptu,” Minister Donohoe said.

Asked about the on-going talks between Fine Gael and Independent TDs on Government formation, Minister Donohoe said he felt the negotiations had been a “successful process”.

“We are hoping and expecting this phase of Government negotiations and discussions with Independents to conclude today,” he said.

He added that Enda Kenny was available to meet with Micheál Martin today.

“They should continue to move at the pace that they are, the Taoiseach has said that he is available to meet Deputy Micheál Martin today,” he said.

“We have said that we wanted to continue with our meetings with Independents and smaller parties and upon conclusion of that work we would be available to talk to Deputy Martin and Fianna Fáil.”

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