Written Answers. - Social Partnership.

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

30 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Taoiseach when he next expects to meet the social partners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16777/03]

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

36 Mr. Penrose asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the concerns within the Simon Community regarding their exclusion from the social partnership process; the reason this is the case; the extent of contacts between his Department and the Simon Community; if these will continue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17905/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 36 together.

As Deputies will recall I reported to the House on 21 May last on the arrangements in place in my Department to monitor the implementation of the new agreement Sustaining Progress. As Deputies will be aware, my Department exercises the main co-ordinating role for the overall implementation of the agreement.

In this context, my Department chairs the steering group, which has overall responsibility for the management of the implementation of the programme. The steering group held its second meeting on Friday, 13 June and is scheduled to meet again on the Thursday, 10 July.

The inaugural plenary meeting, which I will attend together with the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Minister for Finance, will take place in Dublin Castle on 18 July. While the agenda still remains to be finalised, it is expected a presentation by the Department of Finance on the medium term economic outloook will feature.

In addition to the annual plenary meeting, I also meet representatives of individual social partner organisations on a regular basis. In this context, I have been invited by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to speak at their annual Conference on 4 July.

In the case of the Community and Voluntary Pillar of Social Partnership, the member organisations are those that have endorsed Sustaining Progress. The membership of the pillar has changed both as a result of the review of participation in social partnership undertaken in accordance with the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government and the decision of two organisations not to accept Sustaining Progress. The community and voluntary pillar now has fifteen member organisations which have endorsed Sustaining Progress, six on an individual basis and nine organisations in the strands of older people, disability, housing, children, rural, local-voluntary, and care. My Department met the pillar to explain the arrangements to support the Sustaining Progress agreement and the social partnership process more generally. I also had the opportunity to meet the new member organisations of the pillar at that time.

Two organisations did not endorse Sustaining Progress – the National Women's Councils of Ireland and the Community Platform. Accordingly, these organisations are not now social partners within the community and voluntary pillar.
Departments have been advised, however, there may well be areas where the expertise of these organisations or their constituent members, such as the Simon Community, will be relevant to the policy making and implementation process. These organisations may be invited to participate on particular committees or working groups in the light of their particular expertise. This will be determined by the nature of the task or issue in question and is primarily a matter for each Department.
Questions Nos. 31 to 35 resubmitted.
Question No. 36 answered with Question No. 30.
Questions Nos. 37 to 47 resubmitted.