It is completely and utterly foolish to say that because social partnership happened from 1987 onwards that it is responsible for our economic success. The reason people say this is that it is a great way of patting ourselves on the back for the economic success that has taken place.
The economic success has got far more to do with two other factors — the great decision taken by Donogh O’Malley more than 40 years ago to have free education, a magnificent decision; and the other, which is less palatable to this House, is the incoming multinationals who provided the jobs and the engine for the economic recovery.
It has been stated here that this is a democratic operation that has been taking place in Government Buildings for six months. That is nonsense. It has bypassed Members of this House and the other House and has been sewn up without any input from this House and most Members of the other House.
The other point about democracy is that we should ask who these people represent. Both IBEC and ICTU are imposters. IBEC does not represent business. Senator Feighan said he was not represented by IBEC, he has a small business. IBEC represents all the big banks and the semi-States. They are their principal paymasters and the people who are pulling the strings. ISME is not represented.
Who do the unions represent? The trade unions represent less than 25% of the workforce. The first trade union to come out has already opposed this agreement. The unions do not represent those working in the multinational sector or for Ryanair and several other important cogs in the economy. What is represented here is old Ireland, not new Ireland or modern Ireland.
This is a deal between the public sector and big business. They are hoodwinking other people into the belief that they are somehow represented in this deal.