Thursday, 8 July 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
426. Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the elements of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programme report that have been implemented to date by her Department; the savings achieved as a result; her plans to implement any aspects on the plan in the future; if the overall plan has been assessed by her Department; and if so, her views on the benefits of the plans. [31253/10]
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport (Deputy Mary Hanafin): The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, as published in July 2009, made a number of recommendations in respect of my Department and the agencies under its aegis. Specifically, the Special Group made proposals to reduce programme expenditure by almost €105 million in 2010 and to structurally reduce 170 staff across the Department and its agencies. It also proposed that consideration should be given to the discontinuation of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism as a Department in its own right. This department’s three sectors make a major contribution to Irish society and the economy. This must be considered alongside the recommendations in the Special Group’s report. The Government considered the Special Group’s report prior to Budget 2010 and adopted the report’s recommendations in a number of areas where the benefits of the changes proposed were considered to outweigh any disadvantages.
Savings of more than €35 million, or almost 7 per cent, were achieved in the Revised Estimates for 2010 for the department’s Vote Group, compared to 2009. Moreover, the Government’s moratorium on staff recruitment and promotion and its incentivised early retirement scheme continue to achieve reductions in staff numbers across my Department and its agencies. In May 2010, the Government made structural re-alignments to a range of Departments of State. As part of these re-alignments, the former Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism became the current Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, having an enhanced emphasis on maximising the benefits to Ireland, in financial and other terms, of both our tourism product and our cultural and sporting heritage. In addition, responsibility for the horse-racing and greyhound industries was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I am confident that this Department has a strong role to play in Ireland’s economic recovery and am determined to work with the various agencies and stakeholders to maximise the economic potential of the tourism sector in particular.
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