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The Haddington Road Agreement: It’s the new Croke Park II - follow our updates here

Hugh Linehan Thu, May 23
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  • 08:44
    Good morning. I'm Hugh Linehan and I'll be your liveblogger on for today, Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
  • 08:46
    Today the Taoiseach is in Athens, where he'll be meeting Greek PM Antonis Samaras.

    We'll also be getting the annual report from the Garda Ombudsman.

    And we'll be watching for white smoke on a new Croke Park II deal
  • 08:51
    The top story right now on

    London Editor Mark Hennessy reports the British government’s emergency response committee, Cobra, will reconvene today to discuss security measures after yesterday's murder Woolwich.

    British military have been ordered to step up security dramatically following yesterday’s brutal attack in southeast London in which a soldier was killed and partially decapitated by two machete-wielding attackers.
  • 08:58
    Also figuring in our 'Most Read' list right now, as always on a Thursday, is property.

    Michael Parsons's piece on an early 19th century house with its own beach in Co Wicklow informs us that:

    'The five-bed light-filled, early 19th century house has 279sq m (3,000 sq ft) of accommodation and it still has a working set of servants’ bells. '

  • 09:02

    There's also a lot of interest in an opinion piece by Sheila Maher, who writes about the impact on her daughter's schooling of not doing First Communion.

    For the past few weeks, my daughter has, for vast swathes of time, been reading, drawing and colouring on her own to alleviate her boredom and provide distraction during what is official class time. 

  • 09:08
    Our Athens Correspondent is standing by.

  • 09:22
    Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe hs a strong piece today arguing in favour of the abolition of the Seanad. He says that:

    'Some critics of the plan to abolish the Seanad portray this campaign as the “establishment” trying to end “inconvenient” checks and balances. Yet most of those behind this campaign to “reform” are current or former Senators, prominent political commentators and even a former tánaiste. Who could be more “establishment” than that? '


    'Within Europe, six countries have a population of between four and six million, including Ireland. Our country is the only one with a second chamber.'

    Have your say on the issue here.

  • 09:31
    It's 60 years since the evacuation of the Great Blasket Island. To mark the anniversary, here's a collection of articles from the Irish Times archive, pictures of the Blaskets and their people and video footage.
  • 09:47

    Farouk Murad, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, says the Woolwich attack is "an insult and attack against our faith and our community", adding: "We must stand united against this kind of criminal activity... Islam does not under any pretext give the licence to kill innocents on our streets."

  • 10:24
    ‘Stories from the Revolution ” is the third of the Irish Times “Century” supplements produced to mark the decade of centenaries of the period 1912-23 which forged the shape of modern Ireland.
    A miscellany of mostly unrelated individual tales of how the courses of ordinary people’s lives were transformed by extraordinary times. It takes as its starting point the personal; these are the trees rather than the wood, history at the micro level.
    The supplement is an attempt to convey the variety and complexity of the experiences of those days through a form of “citizen history”, mostly family stories, others drawn from archives like the extraordinary digitised, easily searchable witness accounts of the Bureau of Military History.

    You can read "Stories from the Revolution" here
  • 10:39
    Mark Hennessy reports:

    British police are today preparing to question the two men shot and injured after the Woolwich soldier killing as details about their backgrounds began to emerge.
    Sources said both men, who are being treated in hospital, are believed to be British citizens with Nigerian connections who converted to a radical form of Islam. But they are not thought to have links to terror groups based in Nigeria, such as the jihadist organisation Boko Haram.
  • 10:41
    Some controversy this morning over the graphic nature of today's newspaper front pages in the UK.

  • 11:04
    An interview with the lead singer of The National on Jim Carroll's On The Record blog this morning:

    A few weeks ago, I interviewed Aaron Dessner from The National in Brooklyn for the newspaper. Matt Berninger was also supposed to be part of that interview but, between the jigs and the reels and other commitments and rehearsals, it didn’t happen – until now. Here are some thoughts from the lead singer on writing the new album, creative pressure, taking risks, the live show and his relationship with his brother
  • 11:14
  • 11:21
    Extraordinary interview in the Guardian with Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the woman who talked to the two attackers in Woolwich for several minutes before the police arrived and shot them. Well worth reading.
  • 11:25
    Stephen Interesting that the Irish Times were the only paper not to lead with a picture of the man covered in blood. . Would be interesting to hear the rationale behind that?
  • 11:26
    Yes indeed, Stephen. It's quite striking when you line up all the front pages. I don't know the rationale behind that decision, but I wonder what people make of it?
  • 11:34
    Golf. Some people like it, apparently.

    Here's Rory McIlroy on the Garcia/Woods fried chicken controversy and the spat with Graeme McDowell.

  • 11:54

    More stuff you might find interesting on today.

    Laura Slattery has a strong piece on a grassroots campaign to get advertisers to take responsibility for their products appearing alongside anti-women hate speech on Facebook.  

    Ciara O'Brien on the console wars between Microsoft and Sony with the launch of new gaming/media/do everything consoles by bothj companies this year.  

    And Sinead Gleeson talks to Arrested Development stars Jason Bateman, Portia Di Rossi and David Cross about the show's resuscitation by Netflix

  • 11:55
    BREAKING: One of the suspects in the Woolwich attack is Michael Adeboloja, according to sources quoted by the BBC
  • 12:07
    Eamon Gilmore has told the Dail he knows nothing about an alleged incident involving Alan Shatter at a Garda checkpoint before Shatter was made Minister for Justice.
    He was responding  to Tipperary South Independent TD Mattie McGrath, who asked Mr Gilmore if he was aware of reports that Mr Shatter was stopped at a checkpoint in Dublin in late February or March 2011.
    This was in the intervening period between the general election and Mr Shatter’s appointment as Minister for Justice.
    He asked if Mr Gilmore, or the Taoiseach, was aware that Mr Shatter was cautioned by a garda at the checkpoint under the Road Traffic Act 2010 or whether the gardaí used their discretion.

    More here. 
  • 12:15
    On this day in 1934, Robert Moog, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer, was born. His invention revolutionised music. Here are some early exponents.

  • 12:18

    A reader writes:

    Sir, – I followed the spat over Eurovision votes with interest. Although I am not an avid Eurovision Song Contest watcher, I like to see what Ireland has sent.
    I found the Irish entry one evening while zapping, and my granddaughter and I found it so appealing, so we watching the song contest last Saturday to see how it would do. I thought the singer was wonderfully professional, a charmer, and the presentation, drums and all, was perfect. It was the best thing in years.
    Enthusiastically, I voted on the numbers given on screen. I received a notice telling me the cost of the text. Then I received a message telling me my vote had not gone through, so I tried the phone number: same story. I tried both sources several times and was unable to have my vote accepted.
    When I saw how far down the table Ireland had come, I began to wonder just how many other voters did not get the chance to register their vote. – Yours, etc,
    Ay Andreou,
  • 12:20
  • 12:46

  • 13:05
    Here are your lunchtime headlines.

    WOOLWICH. British police are today preparing to question the two men shot and injured after the Woolwich soldier killing as details about their backgrounds began to emerge. Sources said both men, who are being treated in hospital, are believed to be British citizens with Nigerian connections who converted to a radical form of Islam

    SHATTER.  Independent TD Mattie McGrath asked the Tanaiste in the Dail if he was aware of reports that Alan Shatter was stopped at a checkpoint in Dublin in late February or March 2011.
    This was in the intervening period between the general election and Mr Shatter’s appointment as Minister for Justice.
    He asked if Mr Gilmore, or the Taoiseach, was aware that Mr Shatter was cautioned by a garda at the checkpoint under the Road Traffic Act 2010 or whether the gardaí used their discretion.
    Mr McGrath asked if Mr Shatter had been asked to produce a breath specimen under the Act’s mandatory provision, and “whether his behaviour and reaction to this request was appropriate and indeed cordial, or whether he attempted to use the privilege of travelling to and from the Dáil as a means of avoiding giving the breath test’’.

    FACEBOOK . Facebook has moved to defend and clarify its policies on gender-based hate speech amid pressure from advertisers.
    The company said there was “no place” on the social network for content that was threatening, incited violence or was “deemed to be genuinely or directly harmful”, but that “distasteful content on its own” does not violate its policies.
  • 13:30
    The time for “passivity” on mortgage arrears in Ireland has long since passed, Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan has said.

    “Wait-and-see may have been an appropriate or sufficient initial position to take as the great crisis unfolded, but the time for passivity is long past,” he said. “The longer term welfare of borrowers is at stake here, but so is the welfare of taxpayers and users of public services, given that bank losses affect the Government because of its ownership of banks.”
  • 13:31
  • 13:55
    Joe Humphreys reports that the Garda Ombudsman has described as “unacceptable” the force’s refusal to pass on information to aid its investigations, and has complained about the length of time the Garda Commissioner is taking to respond to its concerns.
    In a strongly-worded criticism, the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) accused the force of routinely frustrating investigations on the “erroneous” grounds that the information it was seeking was not relevant.
    “We don’t think it’s right we should be discussing issues of relevance… We should be able to lead our inquiry as we see fit,” the commission’s chairman Simon O’Brien said at a press conference today to launch its annual report
  • 14:01
  • 14:07
  • 14:13
    BREAKING. The Croke Park 2 Agreement has been concluded. But it's not called Croke Park any more. It's the Haddington Road Agreement.
  • 14:18
  • 14:23
    According to our Industrail relations Correspondent, Martin Wall, the gist of the 48-page Haddington Road Agreement is as he has been predicting over the last few days. He's combing through it in search of anything new - apart from the name, of course.
  • 14:26
    The Foreword states that: 'this document captures all of the positions reacehed in that process of engagement and sets out the details of potential collective agreements for consideration by the Trade Unions and representative associations.'
  • 14:28
    'The Commission understands that the Government will conclude a collective agreement on these terms with any Trade Union or associations.'
  • 14:31
    'The Commission is also clear that where a collective agreement is reached the terms of that agreement will apply to the staff covered by that agreement as opposed to any other terms which may be set out in legislation, circular or regulation designed to achieve the payroll and pension savings identified by Government.'
  • 14:35

    'The LRC confirms to all parties that the positions set out in this document represent the limit of what can be achieved by negotiation between the parties in all of the circumstances applying at this time.'

  • 14:38
  • 14:43
    Proposals in the original Croke Park II document that staff who currently work a 39 hour week would have to work the first hour of any overtime carried out free of charge, have been amended.
    The requirement to work the first hour of overtime unpaid will only apply until 31 March, 2014.
  • 14:50
    Plans to freeze incremental pay increases for those earning between €65,000 and €100,000 which were set out in the original Croke Park II proposals have been dropped.
    Instead two six-month pauses in the payment of increments will apply.
    “These freezes will take effect after the payment of the next due
    increment with the following two increments being awarded in 18 months rather than 12 months, or
    equivalent if the increment date is longer.”
  • 14:54
    The proposed reductions in pay for higher earners (over 65,000) haven't changed from the previous proposals. They remain:

    Any amount up to 80,000 - 5.5% 
    Any amount over 80,000 but not over 150,000 - 8%
    Any amount over 150,000 but not over 185,000 - 9%
    Any amount over 185,000 - 10%
  • 14:56
  • 14:58

    I'm guessing the Haddington Road bit may have to do with the actual address of the Labour Relations Commission. Either that or they thrashed it all out over a few pints in Smyth's...

  • 15:00
    A clarification:
    The same level of pay cuts, starting at 5.5, will apply  as in the original Croke Park II proposals for those earning more than €65,000.
    However for those  earning between €65,000 and €100,000, the original level of pay will be restored in two phases, the first coming into effect 9 months after the ending of the  proposed agreement – scheduled to be July 2016. The first phase of the pay restoration will occur                                                9 months after the ending of the agreement and the second a further nine months later.
    Income lost as a result of the pay cut during the lifetime of the proposed agreement will not be reimbursed.    
  • 15:08
    The new proposals contain changes to the provisions for re-deployment of staff which were set out in the original Croke Park II document.
    Where the previous proposals said staff could be re-deployed up to 45 k from the existing headquarters or staff member’s home address,  “whichever is nearer to the new location”, the revised document states that  “the guideline redeployment distance will continue to be 45km from the current
    work location or of the home address, whichever is the shorter commute”. 
  • 15:17
    The new proposals will allow staff currently operating work-sharing arrangements of less than 50 per cent of full-time working hours to keep them on a “personal to holder basis”.
  • 15:20
    The new proposals state that no change is proposed to the existing terms of the flexitime working arrangements with regard to the amount or the use of hours to be carried over.
  • 15:30
    The new proposals have softened the provision for dealing with difficulties in performance of staff and no longer contain specific reference to the potential sacking of personnel.
    The revised document says that “agreed procedures for managing instances of consistent performance issues will be actively
    The original proposals contained the  provision that where “agreed procedures for managing instances of consistent performance issues have been exhausted, dismissal from the public service will be actively pursued”.  
  • 15:46
  • 16:05
    On this day, 80 years ago, Joan Collins (the Dynasty star, not the TD), was born.

  • 16:21
  • 16:51
    Brendan Howlin, speaking in the Dail this afternoon, has confirmed that legislation will be introduced next Tuesday which will a) make it possible to apply pay cuts to those who don't sign up to Haddington Road and 2) introduce more stringent reductions in pensions for some high net beneficiaries.
  • 17:02
    Alan Shatter has issued a statement in response to Mattie McGrath's questions in the Dail today.

    'Deputy McGrath in the Dáil this morning asked the Tánaiste about an event involving me which he alleged occurred sometime between the holding of the 2011 General Election and the appointment of the Government. No such event occurred at the time stated by the Deputy. However, I do recall an occasion in 2009, or possibly late 2008, when there was a Garda night-time mandatory checkpoint in Pembroke Street in Dublin. There was a queue of motorists and when I was reached, like those before me, my Road Tax and Insurance discs were checked and I was asked to exhale into a breathalyser. I did so but failed to fully complete the task due to my being asthmatic. I explained this to the Garda. I also explained that I was on my way home from Dáil Éireann and that I had consumed no alcohol of any nature that day. The Garda consulted with another Garda and I was waved on. There was no question of my having consumed any alcohol, nor of my having committed any offence under the Road Traffic Acts. I heard no further of the matter until I learnt it was raised by Deputy McGrath in questions today to the Tánaiste. To avoid any doubt or confusion, the incident I referenced in the Dáil on Tuesday evening was an occasion when I was in a Bus Lane at about 11.30 am on Ormond Quay in Dublin some years ago. A Garda on a motorbike stopped by my car and directed me to roll down my window and informed me I should not be in a Bus Lane. I explained that the signage detailed that all vehicles could travel in it between 10am and 12 noon. No more was said and he moved on. '
  • 17:18
    The soldier killed in yesterday's attack in Woolwich has been named as  Drummer Lee Rigby of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. he had a two-year-old-son.
  • 17:19
  • 17:36
    That's it for today. The Irish Times liveblog will be back in the morning. Have a good evening.