Competition, the law and the ‘class interest’…

Here’s an interesting piece from Thomas Byrne, a newly elected Fianna Fail TD for Meath East. It’s hardly surprising there’s a bit of bad blood between him and the Labour benches since he nipped comfortably in front of much fancied Dominic Hannigan to take the seat. Byrne gently and methodically deconstructs Labour frontbencher Joan Burton’s accusation that he is a Neo Con for voting against Michael D Higgins’ proposed amendment to the Competition Act:

…the main problem with this law is that the Competition Authority seems to take on cases that most people with a bit of common sense would regard as having nothing to do with price-fixing or things like that. Instead, the Authority has just raided the Irish Pharmaceutical Association because of a joint action taken by pharmacists in relation to their dispute with the HSE. I stated in the Dail yesterday that this was a waste of resources, which it is.

However, the Labour Party bill would effectively exempt professional associations from competition law, which would not benefit consumers and would go a lot further than simply letting the IPU negotiate with the HSE, on behalf of its members, which I would support.

The Labour Party also seem to think, from yesterday’s debate, that the right of collective action of unions (an employee’s right surely?) should also be extended to employers. This is crazy stuff and it shows the extent to which the Labour Party have drifted from their roots as a worker’s party to become simply a niche party of certain middle class sectoral interests.

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  • JD

    A nice bit of spin from Deputy Byrne, however he does not outline how Fianna Fail would resolve an issue that threatens to impact severely on working class communities where the provision of pharmacy services is most vulnerable due to the changes in the Health Service Executive’s renumeration of pharmacists.

    In these communities most of the income of the local pharmacy is dependent on government schemes. In addition to this crucial methadone services are threatened. A pharmacy is a vital local amenity and the collapse of the pharmacy network accross large working clas communities would severely impact on the poorer sections of society.

    Fianna Fail may well be the world’s oldest “New Labour” Party and a natural parter for the Socialist affliate SDLP, but the middle class liberal jibe against the Labour Party in this instance is a cheap shot. If Fianna Fail can improve on Michael D.Higgins’ amendment to the competition authority bill by all means publsih it – but spin is a poor substitute for action in this regard. At least Labour is trying to do something.

  • Hum

    Interesting though it is, the insult was probably directed at Leo Varadkar more so than Thomas Byrne (pop over to The Cedar Lounge Revolution for more). Anyway, they’re both right – while well meaning the Labour Bill would have allowed price fixing to be legalised for the self-employed in Ireland. Brilliant.

  • URQUHART

    JD – by the cut of your gib I’d say you’re a Labour party man. Can you explain to us why you’ve fallen so spectacularly for the line put about by the pharmacists lobby?

  • Sorry, I’m a long way behind the 8-ball here: I’ll make the effort to catch up.

    All I can contribute is:

    1. There is a shortage of pharmacists.

    2. For some peculiar reason which defeats me, those who do practise prefer “respectable” [= profitable?] areas.

    3. (a particular, personal grief) the local Councillor’s back bears the scars of his working-class constituents’ grief that they cannot access pharmacies, night or — even — day.

    For (1) to (3) above, a solution, please.