President outlines the need for trade unions

President Michael D Higgins delivering his address at the PDFORRA annual conference in The Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney.
Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan

KILLARNEY rolled out the red carpet for Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and then rolled it out further for President Michael DA Higgins as they arrived to address the 31st anniversary dinner of Defence Forces representative body PDFORRA in the Gleneagle Hotel yesterday.
President Higgins was there in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the Defence Force and he availed of the occasion of speak of the importance of trade union representation and for members having representation with regard to the decisions that affect them and their families.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, meeting Patrick O’Donoghue Managing Director, Gleneagle Group, and Breffni Ingerton, Director of Gleneagle Events, at the conference

“The movements and organisations that have sought and given representation to workers have a long and indeed difficult history, one that required courage, one which has witnessed lengthy and often harsh struggles in pursuit of basic rights,” he said.
“Some of those struggles and confrontations have ended in devastating defeats, others in landmark victories. The trade union movement’s role in Irish society, too often downplayed in the dominant historiography, has been generous and broad reaching, extending back to being the most enlightened and far seeing part of our long fought battle for independence and outwards towards the right to dignity of citizenship in society as well as in the work force,” President Higgins remarked.

President Higgins is welcomed to the event by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Breffni Ingerton, Gleneagle Hotel Group

He said the right to be represented and to collective representation is a basic right appropriate to all workers as is recognised in, among other places European law.
The president noted that today, in Ireland, approximately 25 per cent of workers are members of a trade union but 40 years ago that figure was in excess of 62 per cent.
“For many years now, the trade union movement has been fighting a difficult battle against the centrality of individualism lead by versions, some more extreme that others, within our society, with its emphasis on the insatiable wants of the individual over the needs of the group.
“This has often been accompanied by an ill-informed resentment of the role of the State, its institutions and the public servants who work in them,” President Higgins said.

PDFORRA represents the interests of personnel in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps.