Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Topical Issue Debate

Croke Park Agreement Review

3:40 pm

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I am seeking the publication of the third implementation report on the Croke Park agreement showing the savings made in public sector pay and non-pay areas in the period to 31 December 2012, that is, last year's report. In referring to the third implementation report I hope it was clear that I was referring to the original Croke Park agreement and the report for last year.

The Croke Park agreement took effect in March 2010 and, according to most people, was due to run until 2013. However, there was a Government decision during the course of this year to renegotiate and move on because the Minister wished to achieve additional savings which he said were not achievable under the first Croke Park agreement. That is his prerogative. However, the starting point for any discussion is a review of the current position. It is now May 2013, but we have not yet seen the report for last year. If I was on any side of the negotiations, I would have asked to be shown the starting point, which should be the review of the current agreement up to the most recent review date. There was a report on the position in the period to March 2011 and a report covering the period from April to December 2011 which was published in mid-March last year. On that basis, there should have been a report covering 2012 published in mid-March this year.

The Minister will offer excuses such as staff being busy, having other things to do and dealing with Croke Park II. However, it would have been much more helpful entering the negotiations in the past two months if last year's report had been available in order that the public sector trade unions, the Minister and the public could have seen the starting point. The Minister has stated the savings he wishes to achieve cannot be achieved under the existing agreement, but that is his opinion. Nobody else can stand over that statement unless he or she sees the outcome of last year's report.

There have been two progress reports so far under the existing agreement. The first implementation report concluded there had been pay savings of €290 million and non-pay savings of approximately €300 million, a total of almost €600 million. The second report, covering the period to the end of 2011, reported pay savings of €650 million and annualised non-pay savings of approximately €400 million, a total of over €1 billion achieved under the first Croke Park agreement. Were savings of €1 billion in pay and non-pay costs achieved in the last year? If so, people should know about it. We have not seen the savings achieved by the big event held on 28 February last year, when approximately 9,000 people left the public service under the early retirement scheme. It is important, in the interests of openness and transparency, that we see the results for last year.

This is linked with the issue of the Minister being slow to publish information. Various letters of clarification were issued in the failed negotiations, but they were not made public. In addition, the Estimates were published and have been discussed last week and this week. I have just returned from the discussion on the Estimates for the Department of the Taoiseach which include the rejected Croke Park II figures.


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