I propose to take Questions Nos. 114 and 417 together.
My Department has not engaged any external consultants regarding the merger of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. My Department, however, provided €70,000 in capital funding to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013 for the merger. In addition, there is an allocation of €696,000 for current funding and €223,000 in capital funding for 2014 in respect of merger costs. This expenditure is required to facilitate the updating of human resource, ICT and financial systems along with accommodation facilities to ensure a smooth operational transition to the merged organisation.
The Merger Working Group (MWG) is an administrative group established in January 2013 to oversee the successful implementation of the merger of these two bodies. This Group comprises officials from the two agencies as well as my Department and meetings are held on a regular basis to deal with issues arising in relation to the merger. This Group has no specific budget assigned to it. Any expenses are met by the individual business units as expenses incurred are minimal.
The Government, as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review of all areas of public expenditure, considered the expenditure on State Agencies and also the separate Programme for Government commitment to reduce the number of State Bodies. A Government Decision in November 2011 provided for the rationalisation of 48 bodies across the State by end 2012 and the critical review of 46 other bodies by end of June 2012; the potential merger of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) was included in this list of critical reviews to be completed. In October 2012, following completion of the review, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announced that the EPA and the RPII would be merged in accordance with Government policy.