Peace and Reconciliation Programme

Questions (110)

Brendan Smith

Question:

110. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will outline the position regarding the proposed Peace IV Programme; the likely timescale for the introduction of this programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18117/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

On 7/8 February 2013, the European Council agreed the Multi Annual Financial Framework (MFF). The EU budget included provision for funding of €150 million towards a new PEACE programme. This budget is subject to European Parliament agreement. The final size of the next PEACE programme, which will include funding from Ireland and the UK, will depend on the outcome of the programme planning process.

The planning process for a possible successor Programme for PEACE III was initiated in April 2012 by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland, asking the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) to begin work on the development of a future PEACE programme for the period 2014 -2020. This work is ongoing and includes public consultations, ex ante evaluations, strategic environment assessments and equality impact assessment, all of which will inform the development of a draft Operational Programme for PEACE.

The Operational Programme will then be presented to the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the Scottish Government before being submitted for formal approval to the European Commission.

At European level negotiations are continuing with the Council and European Parliament on regulations covering the Cohesion package. Until such time as agreement is reached on the draft regulations and the EU budget, operational programmes cannot be agreed with the European Commission.

Public Sector Pensions

Questions (111)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

111. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the impact of his proposed reductions in public service pay on the retirement income of survivors' public service pensions, where survivors on income as low as €16,250 will see a reduction in their income arising from the linking of their income to existing salaries in the public sector; and the action he plans to take to ameliorate the effect of the proposed cuts in this particular group. [18172/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware the LRC noted the Government’s intention to require public service pensioners to make a further contribution to the consolidation measures in conjunction with the contribution being sought from serving staff, thereby ensuring an element of burden sharing from higher paid public service pensioners. These matters now fall to be considered further in the light of the ICTU decision on the LRC proposals.

Public Expenditure Statistics

Questions (112, 113, 114, 119, 120, 121)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

112. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which the various targets set by his Department in respect of public expenditure throughout the public sector are in line with expectations and/or targets to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18175/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which cost-cutting targets set by his Department in respect of all areas of the public service remain in line with expectations to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18176/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

114. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which reform, savings, or cost cutting measures have respectively contributed in line with budgetary expectations in each of the past two years to date; the degree to which options in this regard remain open in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18177/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

119. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if, in the context of the current year in respect of public expenditure reform, the extent to which he expects each sector throughout the public service to be in a position to contribute to the overall objectives keeping in mind the on-going economic difficulties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18182/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

120. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which he expects to be in a position to monitor the effects of cost-cutting and savings with particular reference to the impact on individual public service at all levels in view of the impact of the on-going economic situation; if he sees any particular areas that might offer some relief in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18183/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

121. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform having regard to discussions with the Troika and/or his EU colleagues, the extent to which it is recognised that the achievements made by his Department and the Irish people are in line with expectations and have substantially impacted on the restructuring budgetary measures required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18184/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 to 114, inclusive, and 119 to 121, inclusive, together.

The Government is making good progress on achieving all of our targets and priorities, as articulated in the Government Programme. We are bringing public expenditure back to a sustainable level and driving forward the public service reform agenda to ensure that efficiencies and reformed work practices play a full part in contributing to the overall budgetary consolidation effort.

As regards discussions with the Troika regarding the achievements made to date, there has been a series of meetings held with the Troika to appraise all the elements of the Programme covering fiscal developments, the macroeconomic outlook, progress on commitments regarding restructuring of the financial sector and structural reform. A substantial number of actions – over 200 taking into account Q1 2013 - have now been completed. Ireland’s continued strong implementation record has been recognised by our European Partners, by the IMF and by the financial markets despite the continuing deterioration of the international economy and the recent return to uncertainty. The Programme remains well financed and we have already started to regain market access as envisaged with a number of successful initiatives this year. As we have said repeatedly, the Government remains focused on achieving our commitments as set under the EU/IMF programme, including the fiscal targets.

With regard to cost cutting measures, the Government began its process of medium-term expenditure management with the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) exercise in 2011, which was carried out by all Departments to identify ways of reducing expenditure, in line with commitments under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. Ministerial expenditure ceilings for 2012 - 2014 were introduced in the Comprehensive Expenditure Report, published in December 2011, which were set in line with consolidation targets over the medium term. The arrangements for these three-year ceilings will be put onto a statutory footing following the enactment of the Ministers & Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2012 later this year.

While good progress has been made on delivering savings and implementing change, it remains a matter for each Minister and their Departments to ensure that the Vote-level allocations are adhered to and at the same time ensure that they continue to provide essential services and respond to increasing demands.

The annual detail Revised Estimates Volume (REV) 2013 sets out details of the financial allocations for each Department and, as part of our expenditure reform initiative, it also contains performance information on the key outputs and outcomes being delivered by Departments through the use of public funds. This information has been built into the heart of the budgetary documentation. Through performance budgeting, Dail Committees will in future know what public service outputs and outcomes are being delivered with public funds and this can inform their work and discussion.

The REV 2013 (published yesterday) shows, for each key area of Government spend, output and performance information for 2012 and targets for 2013.

Croke Park Agreement Savings

Questions (115)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

115. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he is satisfied that the targets identified in the Croke Park Agreement and its subsequent review are being met as anticipated; his expectations in this regard in the coming year and thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18178/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Implementation Body, which is charged with driving the implementation of the Public Service Agreement, is required to assess the savings being facilitated under the framework of the Agreement on an annual basis. As part of this annual review process, savings returns are completed and returned to the Body in respect of every sector, Department and Office.

The Body has carried out two annual reviews of the Agreement to date. The two Annual Progress Reports published on foot of these reviews show that the Agreement has delivered on the objectives of facilitating significant savings and reform in a climate of industrial peace. For example, approximately €1.5bn in savings has been facilitated by the Agreement during its first two years, comprising of €810m and €678m in sustainable pay bill and non-pay (efficiency) savings respectively.

The reports of the Body also show that significant reforms have been delivered across the sectors of the public service, including for example:

1. Extensive redeployment and reassignment of staff, for example in the health and education sectors

2. Progress on rationalising structures and office requirements, for example Department of Agriculture and Revenue local offices, court venues and Teagasc offices

3. Introduction of revised rosters, for example in An Garda Síochána and health service locations to better match resources with demands

4. Local authorities have changed structures, the way in which services are delivered and the way staff are organized and deployed in order to manage the significant reduction in staff in the sector, as approximately 8,500 have left the sector since 2008.

The Implementation Body is currently undertaking the third annual review of the Agreement which will assess the level of savings achieved and progress on implementing the reform commitments under the framework of that Agreement during the relevant period. I expect that the Body’s review will be completed in the coming weeks and its third annual report will be published soon after.

Croke Park Agreement Savings

Questions (116, 118)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

116. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he may be in a position to offer the terms agreed in the context of Croke Park II to bodies outside the discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18179/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

118. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which wage and/or salary cuts, longer working hours or other reforms have each contributed in any arrangements entered into under Croke Park II; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18181/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 118 together.

In view of the Unions’ non acceptance of the measures proposed by the Labour Relations Commission, it will now be necessary for the Government to decide on and secure alternative measures that will deliver the necessary savings to meet our expenditure targets. As the Labour Relations Commission proposals have not been agreed the extension of the terms to other bodies does not now arise.

Croke Park Agreement Issues

Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 116.

Questions Nos. 119 to 121, inclusive, answered with Question No. 112.

Questions (117)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

117. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent if any to which his Department has been approached by representatives of groups not covered by the discussions or agreements entered into in the context of Croke Park II which remain the subject of approval by way of vote by union membership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18180/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The discussions which led to proposals from the Labour Relations Commission for a draft Public Service Agreement were between public service management and the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. In addition, a parallel process involved the staff representative associations of the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána. The objective of these discussions was to secure agreement on measures to deliver savings of €1bn in the pay and pensions bill by 2016 which would build on the original framework of the Public Service Agreement.

I receive correspondence and representations from various interests on a regular basis on many issues in regard to the work of my Department and government policy.

Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 116.
Questions Nos. 119 to 121, inclusive, answered with Question No. 112.