It is time for the Government to move immediately to heal the damage done to the relationship between workers in the public sector and the private sector, according to Kilkenny Labour Party Councillor, Seán Ó hArgáin. He was speaking following a canvass in Kilkenny city at the weekend where he said he encountered huge anger among public sector workers at what they believed was a nasty and demeaning campaign against them in recent months.
“The overwhelming reaction of voters to the political developments of the past week is that the sheer unfairness of political and media commentary regarding the public service is leading to huge social divisions in our community. People, who have gotten up out of their beds for decades, done an honest day’s work and provided vital public services often to the most needy in our society, now find themselves blamed for all the woes of our economy. They are astonished that the people who have caused our economic collapse, the banking executives and developers, appear to be getting off scot-free while ordinary workers are paying to clean up the mess they made.
Everybody knows that reform of our public sector is needed, but they also know that a huge number of the additional people employed in our public sector in the past twelve years were taken on by Fianna Fáil governments to buy their re-election in 2002 and 2007. There is also surely no worse example of how an opportunity to reform and improve a vital public service could be handled more disastrously than the creation of the monster that is the Health Service Executive.
It is also important that all of us in the public sector really work to provide a humane, open, courteous and efficient service to the public. On the other hand, the debate about our service provision needs to be fair and balanced. The notion that the private sector always does things efficiently is no fairer than the notion that the public sector is always inefficient. Anybody who reads last year’s OECD report into the Irish public sector would be fair enough to say that the majority of public servants do a good, efficient and cost-effective job in comparison to any other developed country.
Likewise, public servants must recognise that there are many hard-working and fair-minded workers and employers in the private sector who are totally unanswerable for our current economic mess and who need to be supported in playing a part in our economic recovery.”
Cllr. Ó hArgáin concluded by calling for an extension of the powers of Kilkenny County Development Board, of which he is a member, in order to drive forward a new employment and enterprise strategy for the area harnessing the best of the county and city’s talents to get people back to work.