I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 and 250 to 252, inclusive, together.
At an extraordinary general meeting of ITE, held on 18 July 2003, the company agreed to initiate a process of voluntary liquidation. This decision was a matter for the members in accordance with their memorandum and articles of association and relevant company law. I understand that a meeting of the executive committee of ITE on 5 December agreed a timetable for the appointment of a liquidator, who was subsequently appointed on 9 January 2004, and agreed to issue redundancy notices to staff in advance of this. I understand from the liquidator that he has now further extended the period of notice of redundancy for the staff to 27 February 2004. Officials from my Department met with all members of staff of ITE in December 2003. At the request of SIPTU, a further meeting was held on 28 January 2004 with that union and its staff representatives.
My Department has given a commitment to provide every assistance to the company in giving effect to its decision, in partnership with the staff of the institute, and is now working closely with the liquidator in this regard. This includes exploring possible arrangements for the continuation of certain research activities previously carried out by the institute and, in the interests of assisting with an orderly wind-up, facilitating appropriate redeployment or other appropriate arrangements for staff in line with general public service policy in these matters and subject to agreement with the Department of Finance.
Options that may be available in this context continue to be explored by my Department. In this regard staff will be kept appraised as developments occur. The entitlements of those employees for whom appropriate re-deployment arrangements are not made will be determined in accordance with the terms of their contracts.
My Department is committed to ensuring that any arrangements for the future of the ITE library are made in a manner that recognises its wider academic and national policy importance. The Director of An Chomhairle Leabharlanna has agreed to assist the liquidator in this regard and is consulting widely with interested parties in forming recommendations for the future of the library. I have asked to be kept informed of progress in these matters.