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Recruitment embargo undermining frontline services - McDonald

20 July, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on the Government to lift the recruitment embargo on frontline services and has described the continuing use of temporary agency workers as a false economy.

Ms McDonald also noted both the Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform have confirmed it is not the Government’s intention to publish the Comprehensive Spending Review on its completion later this year.

The Deputy was responding to a joint statement issued this afternoon by the Government and ICTU’s Public Service Committee within which the Government reaffirmed its commitment to the Croke Park Agreement.

Deputy McDonald said:

“This afternoon’s statement reaffirms the Government’s commitment to the Croke Park Agreement but rules out reimbursement of pay cuts to low paid workers promised if sufficient savings were identified in the recent Implementation Body Review of the agreement.

“This announcement will be a huge disappointment for thousands of low paid workers struggling to meet increased mortgages repayments, utility bills and general cost of living expenses.

“Reports that the Government intends introducing greater flexibility in the operation of the on-going recruitment moratorium for some sectors may be overly optimistic. Frontline services are being undermined by the recruitment embargo. The continuing use of temporary agency staff throughout the public service, particularly in health, is exasperating the delivery of services and is in reality a false economy.

“Fine Gael and Labour are wedded to their commitment to drastically cut public service numbers over the next number of years. There is only so much fat that can be shed from the civil service even with greater flexibility and modernisation. So that only leaves frontline services. If greater flexibility is introduced in say health then education will suffer under this Government’s regime. Of course if the Government introduced radically different measures such as capping all public sector pay at 100,000 euro per year much needed frontline line service positions could be created.

“Media reports following today’s statement on Croke Park have alluded to the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review currently being carried out by departments. It is worth noting that the Government does not intend to publish the Comprehensive Spending Review on its completion. Both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform have confirmed this with me through Parliamentary Questions and in the Dáil chamber.”

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