We also have the power, under the Croke Park agreement, to require employees to turn away up to 45 km, whether they want to or not. This concession was made as part of the agreement and we can also redeploy staff within and between departments. Ultimately, we will be able to redeploy people from local authorities to the central government and treat them as a seamless service of public servants, all paid by the state and ready to work with us in a fully redesigned public service. These are the changes that, despite the fantastic headlines that we read in some Sunday newspapers, are so common, as well as the terrifying analysis, etc. These are the real changes that are happening, namely common services, redeployment, improved public procurement, efficiency savings, improved broadcasting services and the introduction of technologies in which people were previously present. We follow this model and we succeed. We want people`s support when we try to do that. It is important to recognize that the Croke Park Agreement is a unique achievement of the last Government led by Fianna Féil and the last Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, which the Minister of State did not do. The Croke Park deal was not backed by the Labour Party when it was introduced because of its links to the trade union movement. I`m glad he`s on board. The Minister of State is right to continue to call for a debate on this issue and continues to challenge his own colleagues and the unions. While significant progress has been made, more needs to be done, particularly in the area of local communities. Those who pay the budget tax of 100 euros expect their municipalities to have improved services.

At least they are waiting for answers from the municipal councils to see if something can be done. This will require further reforms within local authorities and there is already substantial evidence of public demand for such a reform that the Croke Park Agreement cannot meet. Currently, the main challenge for the Minister and the government is to ensure that front-line services are protected and that the public is not unnecessarily brought to limited or affected services, but that has not happened. Much of the planning for what is happening has been done on the hoof. What will be known now and forever (or at least until the end of this piece) under the name CPA is an agreement reached by the government and the Public Services Committee of the Congress of Trade Unions of Ireland (ICTU), as well as by the representative associations of Garda and Defence Forces in June 2010, i.e. by public sector employees. We can have a game of semantics or a real debate about what`s going on. What is happening is that since last fall, we have been working on plans through the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and sector teams. The minister, Vice-President Howlin, will present a report to cabinet next week outlining its scope. The plan in question was initiated by the former government, which set a date. In fact, officials were allowed to make a decision until a very late date, so the number of resignations was not really clear. We have to deal with it.

We pay managers a lot of money to manage them. It is not for the politicians of Lainster House to be able to micromanure a part of the public service throughout the country.