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Savaging supports and services for the young, elderly and disabled is not reform - Reilly

11 February, 2014

Speaking in the Seanad today during statements on public sector reform Senator Kathryn Reilly said that this government has focused on undermining services for citizens.

She said:

“We were told that fairness was to be at the heart of this government’s democratic revolution. The rhetoric of reform has amounted to little and the promise of change has been well and truly squandered.

“Public services have been systematically undermined through a combination of cutbacks and loss of numbers; tens of thousands of workers have been cut from the system and those who remain. Selling off state assets is not a reforming measure.

“True reform would have utilised these assets to the benefit of citizens.

“Apprenticeship and management mentorship programmes could have been provided for. Commercial semi state CEOs should be working directly with the departments of Jobs, of Education and Social Protection as part of a job scheme. Instead the state is selling off the family silver to plug a black hole of socialised bad bank debt. Filling state boards with political cronies is not reform.

Savaging supports and services for the young, elderly and disabled is not reform.

“There has been no sense of urgency in concluding the Freedom of information Bill or indeed the Whistleblower bill which finally made its first appearance in the Dáil last week and we’ve yet to see the Regulation of Lobbying Bill.

“In the Minister’s Second Progress Report on his Public Service Reform Plan the bulk of the Ministers limited achievements relate to modernisation.

“We need to see improved cross departmental and social policy development across the public sector – we need to see government decision making actually putting citizens at the centre of every decision you make.

“Cronyism in all its guises must be rooted out. Government must also review its relationship with state agencies who deliver critical supports and services. Top-up payments and gold plated pensions agreed under a veil of secrecy are unacceptable - but so too is the hands off approach government have taken in its oversight of these service providers.

“Reforms should also harness the vast in house expertise the public sector has. Infrastructure for example could come under the responsibility of a single agency. Bringing together our engineers and project managers who are currently dispersed across various agencies is worth consideration.

“If the Minister were serious about true authentic reform, he would reject the austerity agenda and the 'business as usual' approach he has so warmly embraced.”

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