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O'Dea casts doubt on redundancy plan

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FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan suffered a blow last night after one of his Cabinet colleagues dismissed his public sector redundancy plan as merely a "personal opinion".

Last week, he told the Dail he would like to see such a plan along the lines of the 1,000-job redundancy programme being introduced by the HSE.

However, Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said Mr Lenihan's comments about public sector job cuts were "his own personal opinion" and were not discussed by the Cabinet.

"He said he would like it to see it applied in the wider public sector, and in that he is expressing a personal opinion and it may well be that the Government has to consider that, as yet," he said.

Mr Lenihan's call angered public sector unions, who saw it as a threat to the jobs of their members at a time of economic difficulties. It followed an earlier call by Junior Trade Minister John McGuinness for thousands of public sector redundancies, which was also dismissed by the Government as a "personal opinion".

Mr O'Dea told TV3's 'The Political Party Show' the issue "may or may not" be decided at Cabinet before Budget 2009 was published on October 14.

A spokesman for Mr Lenihan yesterday insisted plans for the public sector redundancy programme were progressing.

Earlier this month, it was revealed a group of civil servants secretly contacted the Paris-based OECD think tank to seek thousands of job cuts to end "vast over-staffing" in the service.

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