Ahern Admits Abundancy Of Arms-Length Agencies

Despite being at the helm of the government for the past 11 years, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has claimed there are now too many State agencies.

A major OECD report yesterday criticised the amount of "arm's length bodies", or quangos, and concluded the situation amounted to an "organisational zoo".

Mr Ahern said: "The way in which we have created agencies here had led to particular challenges for the Irish public service.

"We have utilised a type of structure. The OECD argues that this is very limiting and other options should be considered to better match governance to the functions to be undertaken. I have to say I agree."

The Taoiseach-elect Brian Cowen would not rule in or out the possibility of merging or abolishing some of the country's 1,000 State agencies. His comments followed Mr Ahern's claim that there are "too many agencies by half".

Fine Gael’s Deputy Leader and Spokesman on Finance, Richard Bruton criticised Mr Cowen’s failure to commit on an approach to deal with the matter saying: "It is broadly recognised that Brian Cowen has no appetite for changing the way we deliver public services or manage the public finances. His lack of tangible achievements in 13 years in Cabinet have been much commented on recently”

He further acused the Taoiseach in waiting of having a "do nothing, change nothing" approach.

Mr Bruton said if the Government had finally been persuaded of the fact that there are too many State agencies, then streamlining of the agencies should commence.


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