News From The Oireachtas

By Tim Ryan Oireachtas Correspondent

Minister introduces

legislation to merge Tipp councils

New legislation providing for the merger of the two Tipperary county councils into one after 2014 was introduced in the Dail by Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan.

She said the legislation would specifically allow for the appointment of a single manager to both sets of authorities, pending their full merger in 2014.

“This will ensure there is clear and cohesive leadership of the reorganisation process in both areas,” she said. “In this context, I am examining the findings of the local government committee in respect of arrangements in Waterford. The Minister, Deputy Hogan, will report to Government on the matter as soon as he has completed these deliberations.”

However, Laois/Offaly Sinn Féin Deputy Brian Stanley said that having spoken to councillors in Waterford, Limerick, North Tipperary and South Tipperary, he could honestly say the Minister had failed to win the argument for the so-called reforms that are planned.

“In the case of North and South Tipperary, there is no cross-party support for the Government position and I am told by councillors that no consultation has taken place,” he said.

Tipp companies

concerned at slip in

university ratings

Companies in County Tipperary have told Dáil Deputies that Irish universities have slipped in the international rankings, Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath told the Dáil.

Speaking on a Bill which merges five third level education authorities into one new body, the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland, he said the problem needed to be addressed.

“We all know that it is necessary for companies to bring particular people with them but that they are having to bring in their own employees because we do not have suitably qualified people is madness,” he said.

Most important, however, is the standard of education, he said.

“We have to be able to convince the OECD we are fighting back. Some 8% of school goers are in trouble and this starts in primary school. We can blame the big classes and many other elements but there are many inadequacies in the system.”

We must, he said, think what we are about, namely, educating our people and being internationally recognised, not having little empires and kingdoms built. People wanted different grades and then wanted to have the same grade when they go elsewhere.

“We have too much of that and it has gone on for far too long,” he said. “It has left us nowhere and only brings bitterness, with people not pulling together or working together as they should and for the sake of the country.”

Speaking on the same Bill, Fine Gael Deputy Tom Hayes said this was one of the first times this Government had taken real action to eliminate quangos by merging the responsibilities of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, the Further and Training Awards Council and the Irish Universities Board into one new body.

“At present, because several bodies are tasked with providing the types of services covered by the Bill, there has been some overlap and duplication of responsibilities,” he said. “Any attempt to improve the delivery of a more efficient service is a laudable aim that can only be achieved if the new authority is properly resourced and staffed with qualified and experienced personnel who are capable of delivering a more effective service.”