Fianna Fáil has called on Government to "show leadership" on the escalating public service pay crisis by outlining a clear plan for how to address growing strike threats today, writes Fiachra O Cionnaith, Political reporter.
The opposition party's public expenditure spokesperson Dara Calleary (pictured) made the comment as he said his own party is open to listening to union "proposals" to increase public sector pay and may be willing to see negotiations "happen faster" than planned.
Speaking as Government ministers discussed the escalating public sector pay crisis which now involves gardai, teachers, junior doctors, nurses and SIPTU, Mr Calleary said now is the time for Government to "show leadership" on the issue.
However, despite insisting it is time for Fine Gael to show "backbone", he denied any openness to early talks - which could begin as soon as April despite being planned for late next year - will undermine the Fianna Fáil requested public sector pay commission.
"I think it's time that they [Government] laid out some sort of a path for how they're going to get out of this. They've been fighting this from the rear guard since the summer.
"Government need to lead, that is their job, and we want to see them lead and lay out what their plans are," Mr Calleary told reporters at Leinster House this morning.
Asked about his own party's position on the pay talks issue, the opposition TD said Fianna Fáil is open to listening to "proposals" from unions provided they do not impact on public services and accepted pay talks may now have to "happen faster".
"We're prepared to see increases as long as they don't affect services.
"We're prepared to be positive but positive in a very limited budgetary framework and a budgetary framework that's going to be under pressure in the context of Brexit and the potential consequences of the new presidency.
"There were due to be negotiations in any event in 2017, they may have to happen faster than may have been anticipated," he said.
Asked if events have overtaken the public service pay commission's work and if early talks would in fact undermine its research, Mr Calleary was adamant this is not the case.
"No, absolutely not. You still need a context, you still need analysis done in relation to the decisions made.
"The vacuum we have now, the pressures we have now, could have been avoided," he said.