Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (138, 139)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

138. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will set out and itemise the precise details of the savings he specifically intends to accrue from his decision to abolish the statutory independent boards of the National Museum and the National Library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12152/13]

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Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

139. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the costs incurred by his Department to date in preparing to abolish the statutory independent boards of the National Museum and National Library; if these costs reflect the cost of the input of his Department's personnel to date, the costs incurred by the Attorney General's office, the parliamentary draftsman's office, the Oireachtas and other agencies involved in the preparation and consideration of such legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12153/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 139 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Service Reform Plan published by the Government on 17 November 2011 outlined a series of rationalisation measures, some of which related to a number of the bodies funded from my Department's Vote Group. The Public Service Reform Plan is not solely focussed on monetary savings but also on creating efficiencies and streamlining services and structures. In this context, my Department developed a comprehensive and practical approach to the implementation of the various Government Decisions in this area, which was endorsed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

As part of that process, my Department conducted an examination of the board structures of the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and the National Museum of Ireland (NMI), as well as the issue of shared services. My Department also examined the issues that would be involved in merging the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and the Irish Manuscripts Commission (IMC) into the NLI, while maintaining separate identities. Arising from this, the Government has decided that the boards of the NMI and NLI will be discontinued and, as board fees totalling over €80,000 were paid out to members of these boards in 2012, direct recurring annual savings of that order will be made as a result. In addition, the current provision by my Department of shared corporate support services to the NAI will be extended to the NMI and NLI. This will lead to significant savings on administration, as it will facilitate greater sharing of staff and expertise, as well as freeing up staff of the institutions for frontline and core services. Savings of approximately €200,000 are expected to be achieved in staff costs, with a further €350,000 in savings to be achieved through additional shared services.

No specific additional costs were generated by my Department or by other bodies (such as the Office of the Attorney General or by the Oireachtas) in the development or implementation of these Government Decisions. The preparation of the relevant proposals for consideration by Government and the implementation of the Government Decisions in this area are part of the routine duties of the relevant civil and public servants involved.