It came as Labour reacted with open fury to an Irish Examiner article co-authored by eight Fine Gael TDs which questioned aspects of the current agreement.
The eight TDs — Sean Conlan, Paul Connaughton, Pat Deering, Brendan Griffin, Noel Harrington, Sean Kyne, Anthony Lawlor, and Eoghan Murphy — said incremental pay rises and allowances for high-earning public servants should be revisited.
They also questioned whether savings from Croke Park were being overstated.
While the eight had specifically indicated lower-paid public servants should be protected, Labour TDs sought to portray their arguments as an attack on ordinary-paid workers.
One Labour TD, Gerard Nash, labelled the eight a “Bullingdon Club”, or secret society, displaying “open hostility” towards gardaí, nurses, and teachers.
“For an unrepresentative group of FG TDs who are in danger of becoming caricatures, Croke Park has become a term of abuse and not the charter for change which continues to deliver real savings and real reform in the public service.”
Another Labour TD, Derek Nolan, said Fine Gael was “happy to attack the living standards of ordinary public sector workers” while seemingly willing to “go to the wall to defend private education and farmers”.
Labour’s Brendan Howlin, the minister for public expenditure and reform, also weighed in, insisting savings were not being overstated.
Enda Kenny, meanwhile, made clear his displeasure party members had voiced concerns in public rather than at private parliamentary party meetings. “My preference is that people raise these matters where they are supposed to be raised.”
He said it was “very difficult to put a price” on the combination of reform and industrial peace which Croke Park had delivered.
It is understood Fine Gael HQ rang some of the eight TDs yesterday in an attempt to find out if there had been a ringleader.
However, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said that while he disagreed with his eight colleagues, they should not be silenced. “I don’t think they should be censored or disciplined, but it doesn’t change government policy. Government policy remains committed to the Croke Park Agreement.”
Ms Creighton, speaking in Luxembourg, also said she found it “odd” the eight did not raise their concerns in-house. However, she said that while Croke Park would be honoured until it expired in 2014, the State could not continue paying increments and allowances in the long term. “I do not think that in the middle of an economic crisis we can continue paying increments and when the opportunity arises, we should look at this again, but the opportunity does not arise now.”
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