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Over 7,000 applied to retire from public sector last month

Brendan Howlin says that the number of staff in the public sector has fallen by more than the target set for 2011.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

MORE PEOPLE RETIRED from the public service by the end of 2011 than had been expected by the government, according to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

Earlier this week, Howlin said that that the number of people in public service had hit 297,000 by the end of 2011, beating the 300,000 staff level the government had expected after retirements from the sector.

A further 7,406 people applied to retire from the public service by the end of February 2012, and the government has set a target of 294,400 staff in the public service at the end of this year. It aims to reduce that figure further in the coming years, dropping to 282,500 in the public service by 2015.

The reduction recorded for 2011 coupled with notified retirements to the end of February “indicates that the expected 9,000 ‘grace period’ retirement number will be exceeded,” he said.

He also said that the number of people who had made an initial declaration of interest in applying for retirement but had later decided not to proceed with their application “is not available centrally” for the overall public service. He added that he expects that figure “to be very small”, given the numbers who did proceed with retirement.

Numbers in the public service have dropped from 311,676 in 2007 to 296,872 in 2011.

Minister Howlin said that recruitment moratoriums currently in effect would continue except for “certain limited exceptions”, such as certain frontline posts, if a “sufficiently strong business case is made to my department”. However, public bodies would have to work out how best to redeploy their staff to continue providing their services:

Of course, responsibility for operational planning in the context of reducing resources rests in the first instance, with each Public Service body and its parent Department.

The Public Service Reform Plan and the Croke Park Agreement provide a range of mechanisms for discharging work including work reorganisation, changes to rosters or working hours, new methods of service delivery and redeployment of staff.

Read: Government spent €132k on ‘entertainment’ last year >

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