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Cabinet top economy team met on just six occasions

THE Government's most senior committee -- devoted to renewing the entire economy -- has met just six times so far this year, a drop of 50pc on its activity last year, figures show.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal was established in September 2008 and involves the Taoiseach and a group of senior ministers. It plans to meet again next month, but met only six times so far this year; whereas it met 12 times in 2009.

The committee was reorganised earlier this year to incorporate the Cabinet Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation and was renamed the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal and Jobs.

It has a huge remit, co-ordinating job creation efforts across every single government department.

Members includes Taoiseach Brian Cowen; Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan; Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O'Keeffe; and Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan.

Other ministers attend when required by the agenda.


The Department of the Taoiseach has declined to publish agendas or the list of those attending meetings, saying government meetings, including committees, are confidential. Information cannot be released under the Freedom of Information Act either. Mr Cowen has an entire policy unit to advise him on the economy.

This unit, the Economic Policy Unit, is designed to assist him as the head of government.

The unit is also responsible for implementing a group of government initiatives, including the smart economy and the National Climate Change Strategy.

Also, Mr Cowen's department has other bodies feeding into it, including the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) and the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The Department also liaises with the ESRI and the OECD.

Mr Cowen's department also plays host to a powerful group called the Clearing House Group, which represents IFSC firms.

This group is now promoting the idea of a Green IFSC and is lobbying for policies that benefit the financial services in Ireland.

It was also involved in appointing former Taoiseach John Bruton as a tsar for the IFSC.

Irish Independent