Thursday, 27 June 2013
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Departmental Staff Recruitment
81. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has received any request from Irish embassies seeking permission to employ additional staff during the period from 1 January 2012 to date in 2013; the number of requests that have been approved, pending or refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31303/13]
The Government’s Employment Control Framework has established a staffing ceiling for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of 1,348 posts by end 2015. This figure represents a significant reduction in staff numbers compared with an equivalent figure of 1,572 from March 2009 - a loss of a total of 224 or approximately one in every seven posts since the introduction of the moratorium on recruitment. In common with all others, my Department has already sustained heavy losses under the moratorium. Permanent Departmental staff numbers have fallen by 190, or about 12%, since 2009.
In order to try to ameliorate the impact of the ongoing reductions in staffing, a major re-structuring of the Department’s Headquarters operations was completed earlier last year. Other functions and staff are routinely reorganized or reallocated to maximize continuity of work output and minimize disruption to service delivery to the citizen. This, of course, places additional pressure on individual officers.
The Deputy will appreciate that the Employment Control Framework restrictions apply equally to Irish Missions and it has therefore not been possible during the period in question to accommodate requests for additional permanent posts. In fact, it proved necessary to close three Missions during 2012 and a number of others have been downsized. By way of example, a total of 8 Missions now have only one Diplomatic Officer assigned from Headquarters.
However, in recognition of added responsibilities and tasks arising from Ireland’s Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2012 and our current Presidency of the European Union, some 38 temporary posts at Missions were sanctioned and filled since 1 January 2012, most notably in the Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels. In addition, 5 temporary staff were employed on short contracts to cover short-term vacancies or where replacements for departing permanent staff could not be sanctioned, and 4.5 posts previously filled by staff from Headquarters were filled by local recruitment.