THE chairman of the body overseeing the Croke Park deal has warned that the Government may slash the public sector workforce beyond its 306,800 limit.
PJ Fitzpatrick suggested its existing plan to cut the number of state employees by 14,000 by the end of 2012 may not survive the upcoming Budget.
He was speaking just a day after the British Government announced plans to reduce its deficit by cutting almost 500,000 staff through an embargo on recruitment and some redundancies.
The Irish Government has already cut numbers by around 11,000 through a ban on hiring and an incentivised early retirement scheme, but cannot impose redundancies under the Croke Park deal.
The Department of Finance last night confirmed the public sector workforce now stands at 308,370.
This means the Government only needs just over 1,500 further departures to achieve the current 2012 target.
Mr Fitzpatrick said this target "may well change in the weeks ahead".
A former head of the Courts Service, Mr Fitzpatrick also said public service managers' 'action plans' on the reforms they will achieve under the Croke Park agreement will have to be revised in the wake of the Budget.
He said the plans recently submitted by department and agency heads -- some of which were late -- did not contain details on employment levels that would need to be reviewed after the Budget.
Mr Fitzpatrick pointed out that the plans were prepared in the context of the budgets departments and agencies had at the time.
"I think everybody knows that the funding and staffing available to departments, agencies and sectors is going to be different following the Budget," he told RTE's 'News at One'. "The action plans will obviously have to be revisited both in terms of funding and numbers."