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The Secret Service, centenarian bounty and cherished numbers: more on Howlin's report cards

Some of the more interesting items found in Brendan Howlin’s financial report cards.

Not quite a cherished number...Revenue made €166,000 on chosen licence plates for vehicles
Not quite a cherished number...Revenue made €166,000 on chosen licence plates for vehicles
Image: anadelmann via Creative Commons/Flickr

BRENDAN HOWLIN’S REPORT cards offer a detailed look at how much departments are spending and what they are spending it on.

TheJournal.ie has trawled through what the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform called an “unprecedented” release of information.

And here’s some of the more unusual (Secret Service), controversial (banking crisis consultancy fees) and surprising (cherished numbers ) items we found:

  • Of the €3 million allocated to the President’s Establishment, €85,000 will be spent on travel and subsistence while another €210,000 will go on postal and telecommunication services, office machinery and other supplies.
  • The Centenarian Bounty – the national award made by the Irish president to people who have reached 100 years of age – will cost the state €985,000.

Lena O’Doherty celebrating her 100th birthday after being honoured with a Centenarian Bounty in 2004. As well as a cheque for €2,540, she also received a letter of congratulations signed by the President. The tradition was started by Douglas Hyde in 1940 when the gift was £5.

  • The Revenue Commissioners raised €166,000 on cherished numbers (chosen licence plates for vehicles) last year. It only expects to receive €50,000 in 2012 though.
  • The Department of Finance expects to more than double its expenditure on consultancy services related to the banking crisis to €5.7 million in 2012.
  • The Revenue Commissioners answered 1.7 million telephone calls out of the 1.9 million calls made to its service centre last year. Howlin has challenged its support services to use more electronic options available.
  • In 2012, about €5.6 million will be taken in from admission fees charged at National Monuments and Historic Properties, as well as sales of items in their gift shops.
  • An Garda Síochána received €2.7 million from firearms fees in 2011.
  • RTÉ broadcast 4,782 hours of what it called “distinctive indigenous programming” in 2011. Incidentally, about 12 per cent of Ireland’s televisions still rely on analogue signal.
  • We discovered last year that Ireland has a Secret Service.

It is the one agency that has not accounted for what it will spend its €1 million allocation on.

  • This year, over €18 million will be spent by a variety of departments on the EU Presidency which Ireland holds from January 2013.
  • The Central Statistics Office will spend about €43.5 million this year on releasing data from the 2011 Census and 240 other core items.
  • In 2011, law costs of €2.6 million were awarded against the Office of the Director of Prosecutions – a massive 57 per cent drop on the previous two years.
  • During last year, about 16.2 per cent of Ireland’s energy was generated from renewable sources.
  • The €3 million allocated to the National Seabed Survey will be put towards one of the largest marine mapping programmes in the world.
  • Ireland ranks 40th in the world for its road infrastructure and 32nd for its railroad infrastructure. Over €600 million will be spent on improvements and maintenance this year.
  • Over €8 million was raised from money paid to trade mark and patent items in 2011. Another €8 million is expected this year.
  • 7,000 jobs were maintained in Gaeltacht areas and 24,714 students attended Irish colleges in Gaeltachts last year.
  • The National Gallery spent just over half a million on nine separate acquisitions bringing the size of the National Collection to 14,444.
  • It is expected that almost €1 million will be spent by the Defence Forces in payments to dependents of veterans of the War of Independence.
  • The back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance spend is due to drop from €90 million to €63.7 million.
  • The scrapping of the visiting teacher service for Travellers has seen €119,000 taken off the Department of Children and Youth Affair’s bill.

Howlin said he hoped that the release of the document would highlight Government failings, as well as successes.

He noted several declines that “must be addressed by public policy”, including an increase in children at risk of poverty; a rise in the number of thefts reported to gardaí, and an increase of more than one-third in the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin.

Robert Watt, the secretary general of Howlin’s Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, said the new documents had been radically simplified and designed on a new system for greater accessibility.

The overall figures for 2012 state that €51.9 billion will be used for items of current spending with the majority spent in the area of Social protection.

About 26 per cent will be spent in health, 17 per cent on education and four per cent on justice. Just 1 per cent is being spent on jobs, enterprise and innovation.

The €4 billion allocated for capital expenditure is more evenly divided among departments.


More: Brendan Howlin publishes ‘report cards’ on all departments>

Read: Full ‘report card’ on all Government departments>

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