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.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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