For the Deputy's information, under the Public Service Reform plan the following were identified for rationalisation or merger the following actions have taken place. The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology and Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences were merged in March 2012 to form the Irish Research Council (IRC). The IRC has been established as a sub-board of the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The estimated saving on an annual basis is c. €100,000.
Under the provisions of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012, the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), the Higher Education Training Awards Council (HETAC) and the Further Education Training Awards Council (FETAC) were amalgamated to form a new agency, the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). The estimated saving on an annual basis is €1 million.Under the provisions of the Education and Training Boards Act 2013 the Vocational Education Committee (VEC) system was reconfigured, with the number of further education bodies being reduced from 33 to 16. Full year savings are estimated at €2.1m. Further savings are likely to be achieved through realisation of economies of scale arising from the mergers and the wider Education and Training Sector Reform Programme.
Under the provisions of the Further Education and Training Act 2013 FÁS was dissolved in October 2013, with a new training authority, An tSeirbhís Oideachais Leanúnaigh agus Scileanna (SOLAS) being created with responsibility for funding, planning and co-ordinating training and further education programmes. Following the enactment of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012, the necessary steps have been taken to dissolve the Education Finance Board in March 2013 and establish the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board (Cara Nua). This body will be funded from the contributions of the religious congregations offered in response to the request for additional contributions, following the publication of the Ryan Report.