Thursday, 4 May 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Fox: asked the Minister for Finance if it is intended to introduce legislation which will ensure that persons employed in the Civil Service enjoy the same political rights as other citizens; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Colley: This matter has been the subject of claims under the conciliation and arbitration scheme for the Civil Service. These claims have been presented and replied to at the General Council and the Department Council for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Further consideration is being given to them at the request of the Staff Sides of the Councils.
Dr. FitzGerald: Except in the case of a number of people in the higher grades of the Civil Service who are concerned with policy. We are talking about the great bulk of the 15,000 who are deprived of their rights.
Mr. Colley: Are we to take it that it is not advocated by Fine Gael that the same rights should be employed by civil servants in this matter as in all others, as is suggested here? There is a difference.
Mr. Colley: The Deputy asked if it is intended to introduce legislation which will ensure that persons employed in the Civil Service enjoy  the same political rights as other citizens. We have just extracted from Deputy FitzGerald the admission that that is not what he or, presumably, his party, would seek.
Mr. Colley: I have explained that this is a matter for conciliation and arbitration. It came before the Conciliation Council. The case was presented and replied to. As a result of that, at the request of the staff side further consideration is being given to the claim that was made.
Dr. FitzGerald: Would the Minister not agree that this important political matter should not be decided solely by the process of conciliation and arbitration but that it should be discussed in this House before a decision is taken? There might be diverging views on the matter. Will the Minister make an opportunity available for such a debate?
Dr. FitzGerald: Surely at some stage the Minister has to say “yes” or “no”. He is responsible in this House for saying “yes” or “no”. Could we not debate whether he should say “yes” or “no” in a matter of political importance?
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