Haddington Road Agreement Savings

Questions (148)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

148. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a yearly detailed breakdown of the sectoral measures and accompanying savings for the duration of the Haddington Road Agreement applicable in her Department and/or non-commercial State sponsored bodies under the aegis of her Department. [35867/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The measures applying to my Department and State sponsored bodies under the aegis of my Department are set out in the relevant sectoral collective agreement under Haddington Road. The Department aims to achieve maximum benefits from the provisions agreed in the Haddington Road Agreement. In this regard, a subcommittee of the Management Board has been established with the aim of identifying areas for savings and efficiencies and realising the full potential of the provisions in the agreement.

Strategic areas under consideration by the subcommittee include the following: maximising the availability of additional hours through increased productivity, reducing recourse to overtime, reducing staff numbers in sections and business areas as appropriate, and redeployment. The committee will also consider the potential arising from banked hours, streamlining work-sharing arrangements and possible extension of the current flexitime core hours. The subcommittee will be examining the potential to make savings of this nature in consultation with management of respective business areas.

As stated by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the Haddington Road Agreement will facilitate a reduction of €1 billion in the public service pay and pensions bill by 2016. In relation to the Department, the savings arising under HRA have been incorporated in the Department’s revised estimate for 2013 and further details for 2014 and 2015 will be incorporated in the vote allocation in the context of the overall estimates process.

Departmental Bodies Board Remuneration

Questions (149, 150, 151)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

149. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 138 and 139 of 7 March 2013 that the only specific cost saving he can actually quantify resulting from his stated intention to abolish the statutorily independent boards of the National Library and Museum are the fees paid to board members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35584/13]

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Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

150. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 138 and 139 of 7 March 2013, if he has evaluated the cost to the National Museum and National Library of the loss of expertise contained on their boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35585/13]

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Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

151. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 138 and 139 of 7 March 2013, in which he stated (details supplied), if the considerable administrative costs of his proposals in relation to his intended abolition of the independent boards of the National Museum and National Gallery have ever been weighted in any cost benefit analysis; if he will now make that analysis available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35586/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 to 151, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Service Reform Plan published by the Government on 17th 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 Deputy will of course also be aware that 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, the Government has decided that the boards of the National Museum and National Library 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 National Archives will be extended to the National Museum and National library. 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.

In relation to the Deputy's query as to whether the administrative costs of the proposals in relation to the intended abolition of the independent boards of the National Museum and National Gallery have ever been weighted in any cost benefit analysis, I trust the Deputy is referring to the National Library in his question rather than the National Gallery and must advise the Deputy again that the decision taken by Government in relation to the National Library and National Museum is not solely focussed on monetary savings but also on creating efficiencies and streamlining services and structures. I should also say that while no formal cost benefit analysis was undertaken in relation to this matter, a full review and consideration of the issues arising in the context of the discontinuation of the boards of the National Museum and National Library was undertaken.

Departmental Bodies Expenditure

Questions (152)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

152. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 144, 145, 146, 147 and 148 of 7 March 2013, which projects named were funded specifically under subhead A.6, the proportion of the total expenditure under subhead A.6 these amount to for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35587/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The following projects named in my reply to the Parliamentary Questions referred to above were funded from the A.6. Subhead of my Department's vote in 2012:

The Hunt Museum, Archbishop Marsh's Library, National Print Museum, James Joyce Centre, National Maritime Museum, Science Gallery, Cork Butter Museum, Irish Museum's Association, Regional Museums Programme, Mobility of Collections, Culture Night 2012, Co-operation with Northern Ireland and Irish Manuscripts Commission.

However, as I stated in my reply of 7 March 2013 the audit of 2012 expenditure by my Department has yet to be completed by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. As such I cannot advise at this point on the proportion of the total expenditure under subhead A.6 that these amount to for 2012.

Departmental Reports

Questions (153)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

153. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 6 of 30 May 2013, the timeline line for the tender or other process that originated the review currently being conducted by Bonnar Keenlyside; the terms of reference for same; if the report will be published in full; the current likely date for completion; the likely date for publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35588/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

After a tendering process conducted by my Department in 2012, Bonnar Keenlyside was awarded the contract referred to. The study is to encompass, inter alia, an assessment of the longitudinal impacts of the event. Such impact studies, by their nature, look at the impacts over time of events and the shorter end of such a span of analysis would focus on the 2-3 years post event.

I understand that the consultant is endeavouring to draw the study to a close and I expect to be in receipt thereof in the autumn. I will make a decision on publication of the study when I have considered its findings. I will directly furnish the Deputy with the terms of reference.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Relocation Options

Questions (154)

Denis Naughten

Question:

154. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of bog relocations that have been completed; the number where alternative locations have been sourced that will meet the demand for relocation; the number where alternatives have yet to be sourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35697/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Arrangements for the relocation of turf cutters to non-designated bogs have been made as regards a group from Clara Bog special area of conservation in County Offaly and a group from Carrownagappul Bog and Curraghlehanagh Bog special areas of conservation in County Galway. The group from Clara Bog commenced turf cutting at the relocation site in Killeranny, County Offaly, in June 2012, where 23 qualifying turf cutters have now been accommodated. Turf cutting for the 2013 season took place on this site in April last.

Progress has been made with a view to the relocation of turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog special area of conservation in County Kildare to Timahoe North, County Kildare, which is in the ownership of Bord na Móna. Final agreement has not yet been reached. My Department envisages that qualifying turf cutters from Ballynafagh Bog will be able to commence cutting in the relocation site during the 2014 turf cutting season provided that final agreement is reached with them.

Progress has also been made with a view to the relocation of a small group of turf cutters from Ballynamona Bog and Corkip Lough special area of conservation in County Roscommon to Togher, County Roscommon, which is in the ownership of Bord na Móna. My Department envisages that this group of qualifying turf cutters will be able to commence cutting in the relocation site during the 2014 turf cutting season provided that final agreement is reached with them.

I am advised that of the remaining 49 raised bog special areas of conservation, potential relocation sites have been identified for a further 32 bogs and work is ongoing on identifying and investigating sites. Relocation is unlikely to be required, or is likely to be small-scale, for another 16 raised bog special areas of conservation due, for example, to the small number that had been cutting turf on these sites during the relevant five year period and would qualify for the relocation option available under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme.

Relocation is a very complex process, in terms of investigating suitable sites for turf quality and quantity, the infrastructure/drainage works required, establishing the number who can be accommodated on the site, the cost and feasibility of land purchase or lease, and possible planning and Environmental Impact Assessment requirements. In that regard, Bord na Móna has assessed in the region of 50 potential relocation sites at the request of my Department. Bord na Móna is proceeding to negotiate with landowners in relation to the purchase or long term lease of sites.

A payment of €1,500, index-linked, or a supply of 15 tonnes of cut turf per annum is available under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme to applicants while awaiting relocation to non-designated bogs.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Issues

Questions (155)

Denis Naughten

Question:

155. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will review the content and conditions of contracts issued to turf cutters under the cessation scheme; the number of contracts issued and the numbers returned to date; the number under each compensation relocation category; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35698/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme, three types of legal agreements have been issued and are being issued by my Department. The first is a legal agreement for qualifying turf cutters who are signing up to the annual payment of €1,500, index-linked, for 15 years. The second is a relocation interim legal agreement for qualifying turf cutters who have expressed an interest in relocation but no relocation site is currently available for them to relocate to. This relocation interim legal agreement provides for the payment of €1,500, index-linked, or a supply of 15 tonnes of cut turf per annum while these applicants are awaiting relocation to non-designated bogs. The third is a relocation final legal agreement. This agreement has been issued to qualifying turf cutters where a site has been assessed as suitable for relocation and is ready or can be made ready for use for domestic turf cutting.

Turf cutters who sign and return the applicable legal agreement to my Department will also receive a once-off incentive payment of €500.

The interim legal agreement is required in the case of relocation sites because, for the majority of raised bog special areas of conservation, the relocation site and the terms and conditions applicable to those sites will take time to finalise. Turf cutters are being asked to sign the interim agreement on the understanding that when a relocation site is sourced, assessed and agreed they will be asked to sign a final legal agreement at that time. If it is not possible to find a suitable relocation site, for example, for reasons of quality or quantity of turf, planning requirements, or issues in relation to the purchase or lease of a site, then the Department will consult with turf cutters as to the best option to take at that time.

For the avoidance of all doubt, it is the absolute aim of my Department to secure a relocation site for every person who has applied for one. That is what my officials are working to achieve, and progress is being made in that task. However, I feel it is important to be upfront with turf cutters and be clear that relocation is a complex process that does take some time to deliver. The agreements being issued reflect this reality. The interim agreement is designed to give all stakeholders the time to deliver relocation options that work for turf cutters. The clear directions that I have given my officials is to examine all relocation options with a view to securing alternative cutting locations for as many turf cutters within the shortest timeframe.

In the region of 1,210 legal agreements have been issued and my Department is continuing to issue agreements to qualifying applicants. Applicants have been requested to return the completed legal agreements within four months of the date of issue. A significant number of completed legal agreements have been returned to my Department. However, the figures that the Deputy has requested are not readily available.

Animal Welfare Bodies

Questions (156)

Clare Daly

Question:

156. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the assistance he will provide to the Irish Seal Sanctuary, whose future will be in jeopardy if it does not have a site or fresh financial prospects by 1 November 2013. [35700/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

My responsibilities under the Wildlife Acts relate principally to the conservation of habitats and populations of protected species, rather than the rehabilitation of individual animals.

My Department does not have funding available to it to assist this particular project.

Departmental Agencies Staff Recruitment

Questions (157)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

157. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to seek a relaxation of the public service embargo on recruitment for the post of head of genealogy and chief herald at the National Library of Ireland; if consideration has been given to the self-funding nature of the post; his plans to amend legislation that requires such a post is filled from within the staffing of the library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35701/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I can assure the Deputy that I am fully aware of all the issues surrounding the filling of the post of Chief Herald at the National Library. As part of the Government Reform Plan, I will shortly be bringing a proposal to Government on the legislation required to implement the required reforms at the National Library and National Museum. I am considering the most appropriate action for the post of Chief Herald in the context of that legislation.