Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
3. Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the level of expenditure by his Department during the first half of 2009; the way in which it compares with the forecast in the Estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25637/09]
4. Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the level of expenditure by his Department in the first six months of 2009; if it is consistent with the figures provided in his Department’s estimate for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27242/09]
5. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach the expenditure of his Department from January to June 2009 as compared to the projections in the Estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27254/09]
6. Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Taoiseach the level of expenditure by his Department during the first half of 2009; the way this compares with the forecast in the Estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30641/09]
Expenditure by my Department from January to the end of June 2009 was €11.574 million compared to a total Estimates provision for the year of €32.686 million. While fluctuations in spending occur from month to month and some expenditures do not fall due until the end of the year, I am satisfied that overall spending by my Department for 2009 will remain within the agreed Revised Estimates for the year.
Deputy Enda Kenny: I understand the Department of the Taoiseach employs 259 staff. The Department of Finance has taken responsibility for economic affairs, social partnership is all but on its last legs and Northern Ireland and European affairs are no longer dealt with by the Department of the Taoiseach. In view of the outsourcing of these activities, have staff been moved from the Department of the Taoiseach to other Departments?
The Taoiseach: The role of the Department of Finance does not rule out the need for us to assign people to these areas because we have co-ordinating, leadership and other responsibilities. I do not accept the contention that the social partnership process has been abandoned. It is an important function in terms of providing a structure within which relationships and interests can be negotiated. It is wrong to regard a process which has helped to provide stability, and which will continue to do so in the future, as the fall guy for all our problems. Difficult issues have to be negotiated in any event and the process is wider than the traditional area of pay and conditions for public servants. Negotiations on wider inputs into policy and positions are in line with promoting good democratic practice and they should continue. The fact that we cannot guarantee unanimity does not undermine the process. The preferred outcome of discussions is agreement, however. The references made in certain quarters are rather denigratory in that regard.
In regard to economic and other affairs, the Department of the Taoiseach is relatively small in terms of personnel and costs given the level of responsibility assigned to it. While we continue to work with other Departments on controlling the cost of the public service, we also undertake important functions which require the input of competent and adequate personnel.
Deputy Enda Kenny: Why was the programme manager for the Minister for Health and Children paid by the Department of the Taoiseach and given the increased remit of special adviser with responsibility for health and children? Why is that necessary given that the Taoiseach is reviewing pay levels within his Department?
The Taoiseach: I have explained the role of the communications unit. A conspiracy theory is constantly propounded by Deputy Kenny’s side of the House regarding the unit. He seems to have an obsession with it. He continues to ask questions about it and I continue to give him the answers. If that is how he wants to use Question Time, that is fine.
The Taoiseach: I have always indicated that the official referred to by the Deputy is paid by my Department because of the work done in terms of co-ordinating between the Department of Health and Children and my office.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: I recall that when we were dealing with these questions in February the Taoiseach stated that Ministers and Ministers of State would seek to reduce the costs of their own offices by 10% and that if it was necessary as part of that process to redeploy staff into the mainstream Departments or to other Departments, that would be proceeded with. Has there been any redeployment of staff out of ministerial offices in the Department of the Taoiseach into the main Department since February last?
Second, as this deals with the Taoiseach’s Estimate, there is one particular item that I want to ask him about, that is, the allocation for the Moriarty tribunal, which is being increased from €4 million to €7.5 million this year. Can he indicate when that tribunal will conclude its work and when we are likely to see a report, and can he indicate what further cost will be incurred by that tribunal?
The Taoiseach: I do not have the specific up-to-date supplementary on the Moriarty tribunal. As I recall, the report is expected by the end of this year or early in the new year. As the Deputy will be aware, there was a number of developments during the course of this year in terms of recalling people for further questioning or whatever investigation goes on there in terms of the method that he uses, but I understand it should report by the end of this year.
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: In a reply to a question last month the Taoiseach stated that the planned expenditure levels for his Department will be considered as part of the budgetary process for 2010. He stated that it would include consideration of the proposals of the McCarthy report, for instance. What is the process for such consideration of that report in his Department? Is the Department of Finance anchoring that process? Is the Department of the Taoiseach or any other Department in dialogue with the Department of Finance regarding those proposals? These are the proposals contained in a report which caused consternation throughout the country, especially in most disadvantaged areas because it proposed savage and illogical cuts in health, education, social welfare and a range of services such as CDPs and family resource centres. What role will Members of the House have in such consideration of that report in the context of planned expenditure levels in his Department in the next few months but, in particular, for next year?
The Taoiseach: On the budgetary process, my Department will co-operate with the Department of Finance in identifying savings in my Department that are commensurate to what is required overall from Government. That is a role the Department of the Taoiseach must play the same as every other Department in obtaining the savings on an agreed basis, either by adopting any recommendations of the McCarthy report in respect of activities in my Department specifically or by obtaining equivalent savings in other ways as suggested by the Department itself. That is a continuing process in the budget.
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