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'Effective meetings' and 'retirement planning' among Dept's €750k spend on training

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine spent €29,142 for facility hire and tea and coffee facilities as well as nearly €200,000 on travel and subsistence for the training.

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, Food and the Marine spent over €750,000 on third level and training courses for staff between September last year and June this year, according to recently released figures.

The expenditure by the government department – which employs over 3,000 people – in the last academic year was disclosed in a written answer to a parliamentary question from the Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald.

The expenditure included €12,000 on courses entitled ‘Negotiation Skills’ while over €1,300 was spent on a retirement planning course.

There was also a large outlay on facility hire and teas and coffees which accounted for €29,142 of expenditure while travel and subsistence costs for the training came to €198,540.

The Department employs some 3,200 staff which it points out is a reduction of 1,600 from its peak in 2002.

Overall in the last academic year, the Department headed by Minister Simon Coveney, spent €645,464.54 on training courses, third level certificates, diplomas, degrees, masters, and doctorates.

These ranged from courses in minute taking – which cost €550 – to doctorates in governance which cost a total of €30,000.

In addition, the Department also spent €22,440 on Health and Safety training, €17,424 was spent on Internal Audit Training courses and a total of €68,476 was spent on IT training costs.

This brings the grand total spent in the period 1 September 2012 to 30 June 2013 to €753,806.24. This is up from €587,000 in 2012 but slightly lower than €795,000 that was spent in 2010 under the previous government, according to figures provided by the Department.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said: “Expenditure on training and development is a vital component of a continuing policy of learning the skills necessary in our organisation so as to adopt to new challenges faced across the various business units.”

It added: “Without refreshing skills, competences and learning, the department would be remiss in the discharge of its responsibilities and meeting new challenges as they arise.”

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Hugh O'Connell

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