Howlin’s U-turn puts nurses and gardai in firing line

NURSES, gardai, soldiers and council officials will be among the first public sector workers to lose allowances after a major government U-turn.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has bowed to intense pressure from Fine Gael backbenchers by cutting 88 public sector allowances for serving staff.

It represents a significant U-turn on his decision last month to abolish just one of the 1,100 public sector allowances. At the same time, the savings gained will be minimal as many of the allowances involved apply to a minority of public servants.

Fine Gael TDs had experienced a major public backlash over Mr Howlin’s apparent reluctance to cut public service wages.

The allowances that will now be abolished by the end of February include:

* Gaeltacht allowance paid to nurses in Irish-speaking areas, worth €3,500 per year.

* Locomotive allowance for senior gardai who use their private cars for work.

* Acting-up allowance for senior council officials.

* Entertainment allowance for Defence Forces officers who are posted abroad.

* Medical training allowance for consultants, worth €3,000 per year.

The overall cost of the 1,100 allowances in the public sector is €1.5bn per year.

Mr Howlin’s department has not released the full list of 88 allowances facing abolition, or how much the move would save.

But he is now putting pressure on every government department to abolish allowances, which they had said were worth keeping in previous business cases.

The gardai had argued that the locomotion allowance for senior members was “cost-effective and value for money”. The Defence Forces had defended the entertainment allowance on the grounds that its officers were representing the State abroad and were “required to entertain in accordance”.

Fine Gael TDs Anthony Lawlor and Eoghan Murphy, who were highly critical of the failure to make savings from allowances, have welcomed the new move by Mr Howlin.

But they cautioned that they will need to see the full detail to assess the significance of it.

Fine Gael Kerry South TD Brendan Griffin said he hoped that it was not just “window dressing”. He added: “We need substantive savings.”

But while Fine Gael backbenchers may have been placated, Mr Howlin’s plan sets him on a collision course with public-sector unions.

via Howlin’s U-turn puts nurses and gardai in firing line – National News –

via Howlin’s U-turn puts nurses and gardai in firing line.

About Old Boy

Love the past and the future but live in the present

Posted on October 11, 2012, in Government and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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