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Government accused of sharing responsibility for 'disgraceful tactics' of Irish Ferries bosses

29 November, 2005

Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil today Sinn Féin TD, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin accused the Government of "sharing responsibility" for the disgraceful tactics of the Irish Ferries management. He said the Taoiseach sent out a message of no-hope last week to the workforce and "within days the company was enforcing its new work regime with hired heavies and under methods."

Deputy Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance, who was standing in for the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions, what the Government was doing "to prevent Irish Ferries from proceeding on this dangerous course," which he said meant "cutting wages, worsening conditions and tearing up industrial relations procedures."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to call on the Minister and his colleagues to raise the issue at EU level and to "work pro-actively from today for measures which will prevent companies from acting this way within the EU."

Criticising a previous decision by the Government to oppose a draft European ferries directive the Cavan/Monaghan TD urged the Government to reverse its position and to now push for such a directive.

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say that it was not good enough for the Government to simply sit on its hands while workers were being treated in this way. "The future pay and working conditions of all workers in this country are under grave threat if the management of Irish Ferries is allowed to get away with this," he said.

Calling on the Government to take Irish Ferries back into public ownership because of its strategic value to the country as an island nation, Deputy Ó Caoláin pointed out that "trade and commerce are under threat because this strategic company is now paralysed and some 30% of our shipping freight capacity is out of action." ENDS

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