As the Deputy will be aware, the Government are of the view that the inability to pay clause for Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) and Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) should be strengthened. In this regard, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will shortly present an amendment to the legislation to provide an inability to pay clause that will allow two consecutive exemptions within the overall two year time limit where this is necessary to safeguard employment.
The Deputy will also be aware, in relation to correspondence during an ongoing crisis, that it is important for relationships between institutions to be developed, in order to allow for confidential negotiations to take place, especially on particularly sensitive issues. This is particularly the case in relation to the Irish authorities dealing with the European Commission, the IMF and the ECB (the Troika). It is normal practice for states to protect the confidentiality of these discussions, and in fact is usually enshrined in the rules of association of international institutions.
Indeed, this is reflected in the Freedom of Information Act, which provides for exemptions for records relating to, for example, information received in confidence, commercially sensitive information and the financial and economic interests of the state in sections 24, 26 and 31. These factors counterbalance the public interest, protecting the ability of the Government when negotiating or deliberating on matters of national importance. It is considered that release of these records would impact on the integrity and viability of the decision-making process to a significant degree without a countervailing benefit to the public, and would prejudice our relationship with the Troika. For this reason, I do not intend to release this information.