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Social partnership, appointments, dissolution of Comhar, Library Council

Creation of new state agencies in economic field

The Taoiseach told Micheal Martin (FF, Cork SC) that he had met members of the social partnership organizations, including the environment pillar and the voluntary and community pillar, when he addressed the inaugural meeting of the new National Economic and Social Council (NESC) last 17th June.  He made it clear that we will not be returning to the social partnership model as previous applied but that there was a clear line of communication between employers, trade unions and government (Dail Eireann, Debates, 11th October 2011, 28).  He envisaged an enhanced role for NESC as a vehicle for dialogue on the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the country.


The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Phil Hogan, told Caomhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan-Monaghan) that there was a need to reorganize the arrangement for the delivery of the sustainable development agenda (Dail Eireann, Debates, 11th October 2011, 318-9).  There were significant overlaps between the role of Comhar and that of NESC.  Integrating these roles would be the most effective means of achieving the mainstreaming of environmental considerations, so it had been decided that Comhar should be wound down by the end of the year.  He would provide dedicated funding to NESC to support its enhanced role for community development.  His department and NESC were discussing the approach to research capacity.  The funding provided for Comhar was €673,000 in 2008; €465,00 in 2009 and €390,000 in 2010  (Editor’s note: For those not familiar with the field of sustainable development, Comhar was the main point of dialogue between the state and the voluntary and community sector in the environmental field, with its own office, research budget, agenda, system of representation and technical assistance, commended as a model of how to put the principles of the white paper Supporting voluntary activity into action).   


Later, the minister told the Dail that he had reduced the number of state agencies in his department from 21 to 12 and announced the dissolution of the Library Council, An Chomhairle Leabhharlanna (Dail Eireann, Debates, 20th October 2011, 672). The Dail was informed later that the staff complement there was 14.9 (Dail Eireann, Debates, 25th October 2011, 1004).


Meantime, the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan announced that he had made an allocation of €300,000 to fund the new Fiscal Advisory Council in 2011 and it was estimated that its annual budget would be in the order of €400,000 to €650,000 (Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th October 2011, 127).  Later, the minister announced the establishment of another new state agency, NewERA and the Strategic Investment Fund (Dail Eireann, Debates, 20th October 2011, 642). 


> Appointments to National Economic and Social Council in 2011: Dail Eireann, Debates, 4th October 2011, 305-6.