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State of the Nation

Public servants could be in for €800 windfall

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

Talks on partially restoring the pay of 300,000 public service workers are set to commence next week, but leaks have already begun.

Labours Budget Boost Calculators Tánaiste Joan Burton and Public Expenditure Minsiter Brendan Howlin Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The Irish Times reports that the government is to earmark €250-300 million for the plan, which could see public servants gain an average of over €800 each.

As part of the Spring Statement last week, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said they would have between €1.2-1.5 million to play with in terms of spending and tax cuts. The money will be split evenly between the two.

The Irish Independent quotes Robert Watt, secretary general of the department of public expenditure and reform, as saying increased productivity will be needed to ensure partial pay restoration.

Several trade unions have already indicated they will oppose this.

A survey published yesterday showed that, overall, people are happy with the civil service. However, one in five of those questioned said they don’t find it trustworthy.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said it was always the intention to unwind measures in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act “as soon as possible”.

“We’re not going to lose the run of ourselves,” O’Sullivan said, noting the economic recovery the country is experiencing is “fragile”.

She added that it was “very cynical” to suggest the move is a ploy by Labour to get votes in the upcoming general election.

The agenda

  • 9.30am: Finance Minister Michael Noonan will answer questions in the Dáil.
  • 9.30am/11.30am: The health and children committee will discuss affordable childcare and child protection issues in the midlands, in two separate sessions.
  • 10am: Officials from the communications and public expenditure departments will appear before the Public Accounts Committee.
  • 10.30am: The banking inquiry continues today – with Michael Torpey, former group finance director of Ulster Bank, and Robert Gallagher, former chief executive of Ulster Bank’s corporate markets division appearing.
  • 11am: The public oversight committee will launch a report calling for the Direct Provision system to be replaced as it is “not fit for purpose”.
  • Noon: Leaders’ Questions will be fielded by Tánaiste Joan Burton.
  • 2pm: The Dáil will debate the new terrorist offences bill.
  • 3pm: John Beggs, former chief economist at Allied Irish Banks; Pat McArdle, former group chief economist at Ulster Bank and Dr Dan McLaughlin, former chief economist at Bank of Ireland will be interviewed by the banking committee.

What the others are saying

  • Finance Minister Michael Noonan said some people on the dole are “allergic” to work, according to the Irish Independent.
  • The Irish Times reports that senior members of Fine Gael are concerned that other TDs could lose out at selection conventions following Jobs Minister Richard Bruton’s failure to be chosen to run for the party in Dublin Bay North. He was later added to the ticket.
  • Health minister Leo Varadkar has denied the government isn’t doing enough to tackle the country’s obesity problem, according to the Irish Examiner.

Inside Leinster House

Ruth Coppinger’s bill on repealing the eighth amendment will be debated by TDs tomorrow. It’s likely to be comfortably defeated by the government, as was a similar bill by Clare Daly back in November.Several Labour TDs missed the vote on Daly’s bill, with Anne Ferris the only one to vote against the party whip. Labour members at the party’s recent Ard Fheis passed a motion calling for the next government to hold a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment. It will be interesting to see if anyone will follow in Ferris’ footsteps this time around.

In case you missed it

On the Twitter machine

Former Green party leader John Gormley paid tribute to the late Errol Brown.

Originally published: 9am

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