Updated: 08/11/16 : 05:47:47
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The Court which began life in child's copybook

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

A CHILD'S copybook was used to the plan the body which will invade our teatime telly screens for some time to come.

That particular jotter belonged in another prolonged age of austerity for Irish people.

Ask your parents or grandparents about the Ireland of the Forties, everything was rationed and hours of work were long, everywhere. 

One of the men tasked with seeing us through those times was the Minister for Supplies.

Sean Lemass left behind him all his leadership roles in Irish politics fifty years ago this week.

For the record, he 'handed over as leader of Fianna Fáil on November 10th 1966.

Called Shots

By strange coincidence the country back then was in the grip of unrest caused by pay demands from trade union members.

Ireland, as a sovereign country, had only just tasted its first freedom(s), jobs at home paying REAL money.

Professor Charles McCarthy, an industrial relations expert, however, dubbed 1960s Ireland as ''the age of upheaval.''

He was talking about the climate (of control) in which unions in the public service called many of the shots on pay demands.

Happy Birthday

The Labour Court entered the public mind for the first time in those Sixties through settlement of disputes.

Familiar? Well maybe we should start with a chorus of 'Happy Birthday.'

The Labour Court was brought to life in that children's copybook in 1946 in the home of Sean Lemass. 

The body has served the country well in its 70 young years. 

The ex Sligo Rovers goalkeeper, Finnbar Flood -- recently deceased -- was an excellent Chair of the Labour Court.

Flood's biography is worth reading for useful background insights it offers on the Court.

Sure, yes, the Court's work last week surprised the Government with what it 'gave' to Gardai, so we are told.

 What was the alternative? Was there any? Entrant Gardai were earning €23,000 per year. 

Entrant TDs, with no risk at all to their lives, are already taking home threefold-plus multipliers of that sum in year one.

The 2008 memorial lecture in honour of Madame Markievicz sketched the life of the Labour Court under the microscope.

Professor Bill Roche's lecture covers the eras right up to the economic crash eight years ago under Brian Cowen.