Government Ministers and out-going Congress General Secretary, David Begg, have signaled support for renewed talks between the social partners. At a press conference in Dublin on Monday (19th January), Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, said: “Rather than having a reestablishment of social partnership, which at the end was a failure, I would like to see something where people had a way of inputting between elections as a general principle and to what their priorities would be through those civil society organisations that represent people.”He added that the Government believed that the “principle groups are probably interested in dialogue,” but said it was still unclear “whether we can move beyond dialogue into some kind of quasi negotiation where pay and tax relief could be in the one package and there could be a quid pro quo between one and the other.” Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, noted his previous indication that talks on public pay would take place with trade unions before emergency laws to cut pay expired later this year.He added that the Oireachtas would have to be included in any renewed partnership process.“One of the deficiencies recognised in formal social partnership was the exclusion of the Oireachtas,” he said.However, out-going Congress General Secretary, David Begg, indicated he strongly supported the resumption of the social partnership process.“I certainly have been lobbying for it because I believe in it,” he said, “I think it is the only way you can operate a small open economy, especially in challenging times.”He accepted that within the trade union movement there was divergent views on social partnership. “Some are opposed, and always have been, to anything that looks like social partnership.”For more information see:Congress General Secretary, David Begg, discusses social partnership on RTÉ