Friday 19 January 2018

Public service staff to be cut by 18,000 over the next four years

'Unnecessary' posts given approval

Paul Melia and reporters

THE Government is planning to cut public service staff numbers from 300,000 to 282,500 by 2015 under the Public Service Reform programme to be published today.

Annual leave will be standardised with a maximum leave entitlement of 32 days – some staff were previously entitled to over 40 days off a year as well as privilege days.

Some 40 decentralisation projects are to be cut and a further 20 will be reviewed, it is understood.

And the government will give an update on the abolition or merger of up to 50 quangos.

Other efficiencies in relation to shared services, improved procurement and property management systems and potential out-sourcing are also expected to be announced by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin today.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the government has approved the appointment of three tipstaffs, or clerks, for judges and more than 100 ministerial advisers since taking office.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has signed off on the creation of more than 250 posts in the civil service since last March, but has refused permission to hire 31 people to answer 999 calls.

Figures released last night show that officials across a range of departments were given allowance for performing extra duties and a total of 143 ministerial adviser and driver jobs created since the Government took office on March 9 last.

There are 30 ministers, including junior ministers, and each would have two civilian drivers, at least one secretary and at least one advisor. Cabinet ministers would have two advisers as a minimum.

The moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service was introduced at the end of March 2009. It allows for key posts in the education, health and local authority sectors to be filled, but an application must be made to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to fill all other positions.

Each request for an exception is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Approval to fill posts is based on the business case made, including consideration of whether it is a statutory post, which must be filled for legal reasons or if the job is needed to deliver essential services.

Since its introduction, applications have been made to fill 2,538 posts. Of these, 1,792 have been approved. Minister Howlin has approved 258 posts since last June.

The figures show that a total of 143 advisers, secretaries and civilian drivers have been appointed to government ministers.

The Department of Public Expenditure also confirmed that three tipstaffs -- or clerks for judges -- have also been appointed at salaries ranging from €407 to €567 a week despite the posts being identified by An Bord Snip Nua as being unnecessary.

Other posts approved include three legal researchers, a legal assistant to the Chief Justice and a Taxing Master to the High Court. Another 40 computer staff have been approved for the Revenue Commissioners to replace outside consultants, and a superintendent of cleaning at the Department of Education post has been sanctioned.

However, the Government has yet to make a decision on a range of posts, including a manager of child detention school services and governor positions in the Prison Service.

Key Garda posts remain unfilled, including 31 civilian staff sought to answer 999 calls, which was refused. Gardai also sought permission to hire 35 people to vet people working with children, but just 10 were approved. Tens of thousands of vetting applications have yet to be processed.

Irish Independent

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