26 September 2023

IRELAND: Minister slammed over ‘secret recordings’ of PS

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Ireland’s Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly has come under fire for allegedly failing to respond to Public Servants’ concerns about their privacy being breached when internal meetings are secretly recorded.

General Secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants, Ciaran Rohan called on the Minister to clarify comments made last year that such recordings could be in the public interest.

He complained in a letter to the Minister in November that leaked recordings of Departmental meetings caused considerable upset to his members, but received no reply.

The leaks were allegedly made by a Department official who had concerns about mismanagement of the health budget. They led to extensive media coverage.

Speaking on the eve of the union’s Annual Delegate Conference, Mr Rohan (pictured) said a motion had been tabled at the conference noting “with concern” comments made by Government Ministers that recordings made without consent of internal Public Service work meetings were in the “public interest”.

It asks the union’s executive to continue to act to protect the privacy rights of members.

Mr Rohan said internal debate was often robust — “you stifle that level of debate if individuals could be recorded”.

He said the issue was still a big concern as many Public Servants were doing blended work, spending three days in the office and two at home.

Other issues for debate at the conference included a number of motions calling for a four-day working week.

Delegates asked the union to support the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s campaign for a four-day week and to seek the introduction of ‘work condensing programs’ in all Government Departments and offices.

Other motions called on the union to commission research on the costs and benefits of moving to a four-day week, and to review the experiences of organisations that had already trialled a shorter working week.

Dublin, 7 May 2023

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