Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (666)

Seamus Kirk


680 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, having regard to the potential of agriculture in Ireland, he will consider relaxing the recruitment embargo, in areas including research, advice and entertainment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35279/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine)

The Government is committed to reforming the public service to achieve greater efficiencies in the delivery of services. The ‘Public Service Agreement 2010-2014' aims to create a smaller and more integrated public service and requires all public service organisations to do more with less. New structures are envisaged to facilitate greater staff mobility and to promote sharing of services. Reallocation of work and redeployment of staff will be an essential part of this process. In addition, each sector of the Public Service has been requested to establish its own Strategic Workforce Action Plan to help deploy staffing resources more optimally, especially in the context of planned reductions in public service numbers.

Public service bodies are also subject to the moratorium on recruitment and restrictions on staff numbers under the Employment Control Framework (ECF) process. This requires bodies to assess and plan for current and ongoing staffing requirements within existing resources. Additional resources can only be considered in limited circumstances and in compliance with Government targets to reduce staff numbers.

Teagasc has statutory responsibility to deliver research, education and advisory services to the agrifood sector. Despite reductions in numbers, they retain a staff complement of almost 1,200 staff including advisors, teachers, research scientists and administrators. They have been granted a number of exemptions under the moratorium to recruit permanent staff including, for example, 10 research scientists and 6 teachers in the agricultural colleges. Sanction has also been granted for Teagasc to recruit over 80 fixed term research contractors to work on essential research projects. A number of fixed term advisors have also been recruited to work on Joint Industry Funded Advisory Programmes such as Better Farm.