Senior managers in the public service are stymieing reform and have "not been ambitious enough" in delivering change, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has said.
In an interview with the Sunday Independent, the self-described 'minister for cuts' said that the Croke Park deal would have to "deliver more vigorously", if further pay reductions are to be avoided.
Achieving such reforms will be a "tall order", he said.
Mr Howlin said he intends bringing Enda Kenny to the next meeting of the Croke Park implementation group to reinforce to managers and unions the need for increased reforms.
He said: "At the next meeting of the implementation body, I intend attending with the Taoiseach to ensure people understand. What we are hearing is that managers are not ambitious enough in the changes they want to bring about. We have to drive that to ensure there are ambitious programmes for people to change."
He added: "Clearly there is enormous pressure to deliver further reductions in staff numbers and pay-bill savings, given the fiscal situation. Everybody has a part to play in achieving the required savings -- that goes for government ministers, for public service managers, and for unions."
He called on some of RTE's top stars like Pat Kenny, Marian Finucane and Miriam O'Callaghan to follow the example set by the secretaries general and volunteer a further reduction in their high salaries. "I would hope the same moral swage would apply to them," he said.
He also said that he would seek to cut the pay of the Director of Public Prosecutions James Hamilton and the Comptroller and Auditor General John Buckley, from their current salary levels of €215,000 to €200,000, but said he was seeking advice from the Attorney General on the matter.
He also expressed his annoyance at the decision by the Dublin Airport Authority to award boss Declan Collier a bonus of €106,000 as part of a total package worth €612,000, despite the Government's request that no bonuses be paid.
He said he strongly supported Transport Minister Leo Varadkar's position on the matter.
He also called for greater transparency with regard to salaries being paid to National Treasury Management Agency and National Asset Management Agency employees, 16 of whom are paid in excess of €200,000 a year.
Mr Howlin said it was totally "unacceptable" that key economic decisions were now being taken by outside agencies, and it was his job to regain our sovereignty as quickly as possible.
"Our task is to restore economic sovereignty to this country. Right now, crucial decisions on our spending and on our legislation are being made by external parties whom we are dependent upon to give us money to function. That is an unacceptable position to be in.
"Our task is to get out of that as expeditiously as possible. We have to balance our budget to do that," he said.
It is not often that a minister appears on RTE's Six One News bearing the severed pay scales of our judicial and senior mandarin classes. Such, however, was the exalted state of Brendan Howlin last Wednesday, our newborn Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform even dared to suggest that it might be no harm if some of RTE's sacred calves might consider dropping their salary scales.
So Michael Noonan wants us to start spending again? That, at least, is what he told a gathering of the Irish Financial Services group over lunch last Thursday. I am sure most of us would be delighted to oblige. Then again if only we had the gilt-edged salaries, job security and gold-plated pensions of his advisers, we might feel more confident in doing so. But that's another story.