Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Taoiseach in showdown with garda

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks to the media in Ratoath as he joins Fine Gael candidate Helen McEntee

A garda angered by pay cuts confronted Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he canvassed for the Meath East by-election.

The father-of-three challenged Mr Kenny in a raw showdown, accusing him of taking money from his pockets.

During the emotionally charged meeting on a supermarket floor, the Taoiseach was adamant the hard-pressed officer should contribute his fair share to recovery and he insisted all public sector workers would do the same.

"You're a guard, which is a very important job. You're an intelligent man. But what do you think is going to pay for the services that you need?" Mr Kenny said.

The Taoiseach reacted defensively and went on to criticise the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors and accused them of walking out of the pay talks.

The officer, who would not give his name due to the nature of his job, said he should be compensated for the unsociable hours he works.

The Ratoath man cornered the Taoiseach as he made his way around a supermarket in the small Meath town, canvassing support for Helen McEntee - daughter of the late junior minister Shane McEntee who died before Christmas.

"I didn't cause this economy to collapse but I feel I'm being singled out. I'm being told that I have to accept this because of the state of the economy," the garda said.

Unions will soon vote on whether to accept government proposals outlined last month to cut one billion euro from the state's public sector pay bill, which accounts for 35% of total public spending.

The deal - drafted by the Labour Relations Commission - will see workers take pay cuts on salaries above 65,000 euro, frozen increments and longer working hours with no extra pay.

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