Fianna Fáil parliamentary party hears fresh criticism of Government

Taoiseach was told that the government is “having a bad week, every week” since it was formed, at a private meeting of his party.

At the weekly meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, Mr Martin heard from a small number of TDs who complained about the continued mishandling of events by the government.

Kilkenny TD John McGuinness said the PUP U-turn and the fallout of the gifting back of the €16,000 top-up allowance for super junior ministers had been “a PR disaster.” Mr McGuinness is believed to have said the government “is having a bad week, every week.” 

New Dun Laoghaire TD Cormac Devlin also was critical of the handling of the matters, saying the party was being “badly damaged” by Sinn Féin’s more agile approach to social media.

Mr Devlin reportedly said that even with the presence of many highly-paid advisors, ministers appeared to be giving away too many “own goals”.

Mr Devlin’s view were said to have been delivered in a calm but determined fashion.

Mr Martin, is said to have “held the line” on the 10% pay cut issue and “did not give an inch” but complained that his comments to his own party were being leaked out to the media while the meeting was ongoing.

But he did accept that things “could have been handled better” and the meeting heard that the summer break should be used to “refresh” and start again with renewed purpose in September.

Meanwhile, a presentation by new Education Minister Norma Foley about the plans to re-open the country’s 4,000 schools was well received by TDs.

One source said:

She was complimented on the policy and a few loose ends were addressed.

Mr Martin and junior Enterprise Minister Robert Troy are to hold a meeting with former Debenhams’ workers on Thursday, the meeting also heard.

The workers have been protesting at their treatment by their former employer which ceased operations in Ireland earlier this year.

Mr Troy reportedly told the private meeting that he is seeking to amend legislation to strengthen the rights of workers, but said that it will not be retrospective and will not apply to those affected workers at the former high street outlet.

Some present said they were “not impressed” by his responses.

Mr Martin has sharply criticised the treatment of the workers by Debenhams in the Dáil in recent weeks.

The plight of the workers was “strongly raised” at the meeting by Dublin South-West TD John Lahart.

Last week, the former Debenhams workers marked the 100th day of their dispute over redundancy terms by staging a series of protests around Ireland. The former staff claim the package offered to them when the Irish arm of Debenhams was placed into liquidation this spring was unfair.

They are set to receive statutory redundancy payouts of two weeks of salary per year of service. The workers are demanding four weeks’ pay per service year. They are also calling on the Government to waive monies owed to it through the liquidation process so they can be used to boost the redundancy packages. Liquidator KPMG is set to use proceeds of the liquidation of the Irish business’s assets to pay off key creditors, such as the Revenue Commissioners and other State bodies.

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