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Why just one department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment?

  • 03-01-2018 6:02pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 11,710 ✭✭✭✭


    Most probably done to save money is it?

    Why only one minister for it and why lump all these things into just one department and not have them in seperate departments with seperate ministers?


Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,024 ✭✭✭Owryan


    Most probably done to save money is it?

    Why only one minister for it and why lump all these things into just one department and not have them in seperate departments with seperate ministers?

    Constitution only allows for 15 ministries and a taoiseach. So some have to be combined to allow for new ones.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,710 ✭✭✭✭Andy From Sligo


    i think maybe if they were split up and had a minister for each it would be better and more concentration could be given to each department.

    So Denis Naughten, TD holds the position at the moment , i dont know him personally or havent read up anything about but is he good/ clued up on all 3 departmental positions or is he specialist in just one of them


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,024 ✭✭✭Owryan


    i think maybe if they were split up and had a minister for each it would be better and more concentration could be given to each department.

    So Denis Naughten, TD holds the position at the moment , i dont know him personally or havent read up anything about but is he good/ clued up on all 3 departmental positions or is he specialist in just one of them

    So without having a referendum, which three cabinet posts would you get rid of?


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,710 ✭✭✭✭Andy From Sligo


    Owryan wrote: »
    So without having a referendum, which three cabinet posts would you get rid of?

    no, i was thinking more of appointing another 2 TD's as well as himself so there is one minister for each department - but I dont really know how Irish politics work. I just find it peculiar when 3 different (quite different in every way) departments just has one minister. Its a bit like a garage, fast food joint and an butchers all being run by a person who specialises as an undertaker (maybe not a best comparison, but I think you know what I mean)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,024 ✭✭✭Owryan


    but but but you cant, constitution limits the number of ministeries


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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,710 ✭✭✭✭Andy From Sligo


    Owryan wrote: »
    but but but you cant, constitution limits the number of ministeries

    ah right, how does the constitution change ? or how do the people go about changing the constitution?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,024 ✭✭✭Owryan


    ah right, how does the constitution change ? or how do the people go about changing the constitution?


    Little thing called a referendum, we had one a while back about same sex marriages, will have another one on abortion this year.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,978 ✭✭✭Caranica


    They are not three whole areas of responsibility, parts of what you might think are environment or communications are under the other auspices of other departments or at the very least junior ministers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 24,454 ✭✭✭✭Cookie_Monster


    Owryan wrote: »
    So without having a referendum, which three cabinet posts would you get rid of?

    Public expenditure and reform should be under Finance
    Rural could go or at least merged with children and youth affairs

    I can't see any other though...

    Realistically I think at least another 5 are needed

    Enviroment & Climate change should be it's own, it's literally the most important thing in the world
    Police
    Research, Science and Technology
    Social Development to cover Child & youth, Employment and Social into one
    Maybe even A Primary Industry one, it works quite well here in NZ, having it separate to general industry. Cover the really key important sectors of the economy ( farming, fishing, food, animal welfare, biosecurity, and forestry sectors)
    A temporary Brexit one for the next decade or so to have a proper focus on the mess this is going to make for everyone


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,742 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    The Constitution limits the Cabinet to 15 members. You can have more departments, but then ministers have to double up, with some ministers heading up more than one department. At the moment we have 17 Departments; Varadkar double as Taoiseach (which has its own Department) and Minister for Defence, while Donohue doubles in Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform.

    The point about keeping the cabinet to a fixed size is that it's a body that is supposed to function collectively, with its members meeting, discussing, listening to one another, and making collaborative and collective decisions. The larger the cabinet becomes, the more difficult it is to make this work in practice.

    (On edit: a second reason for limiting the number of government ministers is that there is a limited pool from which they must be drawn. They all have to come from the government side in either the Dail or the Seanad, so maybe 100 or so possibilities. And the talents and experience which fit somebody to be a good minister are, um, not something everybody is blessed with. The skill set which makes someone good at winning re-election, and good at attending to the needs of constituents, is completely different from the skill set which makes someone an effective leader of a large professional organisation like a department of state. So, the more ministers you have to appoint, the more difficult its going to be to find enough competent people to fill all the posts.)

    The fact that a Department has "and" in the title doesn't mean that it can or should conveniently be split into two departments. For decades we had a Department of Industry and Commerce; it was a single department. A department's title is often expanded to indicate new priorities or focuses, or the transfer of a particular responsibility from another Department, resulting in an "and" in the title - e.g. the Department of Education became the Department of Education and Skills; the Department of Local Government has become the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. But they are still essentially the same department and there is no case for splitting them into two or three separate organisations.

    Communications, Climate Action and Environment could possibly be split into two Departments. Climate Action and Environment are obviously closely linked - they're one function, really. The "Communications" element of the Department is the relic of the old Department of Posts and Telegraphs, which since the spinoff of An Post and the privatisation of Eircom really just concerns itself with the regulation of the broadcasting and telecommunications markets, and associated policy questions. There isn't enough substance there to justify a stand-alone Department, so it's always going to be bolted on to something else. It used to be in with Tourism and Transport; then it was bundled into Energy and Natural Resources; and that Department was given its current name in 2016.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭amtc


    I think you'll find Communications doesn't regulate...ComReg do. The Communications part of the Department is the largest part and is responsible for the large capital expenditure on the National Broadband Plan

    I personally liked when it was dcmnr...fones n' fish


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,742 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    amtc wrote: »
    I think you'll find Communications doesn't regulate...ComReg do. The Communications part of the Department is the largest part and is responsible for the large capital expenditure on the National Broadband Plan
    ComReg is the regulator, in the sense that it applies the regulations. But it doesn't make the regulations. That's done by the Minister, with policy support from the Department. The Minister (aided again by the Dept) also determines communications policy.

    I take your point about the National Broadband Plan being an important (and expensive!) aspect of the work of the Communications end of the Dept of CCA&E.


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,742 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    . . . Realistically I think at least another 5 are needed

    Enviroment & Climate change should be it's own, it's literally the most important thing in the world
    Maybe, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the best way of dealing with it is through a separate government department. Basically, each department of state is responsible for forming policy and implementing legislation in a distinct policy area. So if you separate, e.g., climate change from energy, then climate policy and energy policy are being formed at arm's length from one another, and the people who regulate the energy market are not the same people who are concerned about climate change. So that might not be the optimal structure for acheiving progress in what you identify as the most important thing in the world.
    Police
    Why do you think there should be a separate police department? "Minister for Police" is an office that stereotypically exists only in authoritarian states. ;) The liberal political tradition is that policing needs to be politically addressed within the broader framework of legal policy. which is why it's traditionall done within a Department of Justice or Home Affairs or similar.
    Research, Science and Technology
    Possibly. Although there's an argument that the role of the state is not to engage in scientific or technolicial research, but to create an environment favourable to others doing so. And if that's correct, separating research, science and technology policy formation and implementation from (a) education and (b) industry would be a retrograde step.
    Social Development to cover Child & youth, Employment and Social into one
    Possibly. Although given our poor long-term record in child welfare/child protection, before we extinguish a department focussed primarily on children and child services we'd want to look at the reason why it was set up in the first place. From memory, it brought together the child health/child welfare services of the Dept of Health and the juvenile justice services of the Dept of Justice; your proposal would divide them again. That might be a good thing, or it might not.
    Maybe even A Primary Industry one, it works quite well here in NZ, having it separate to general industry. Cover the really key important sectors of the economy ( farming, fishing, food, animal welfare, biosecurity, and forestry sectors)
    Ahem.
    A temporary Brexit one for the next decade or so to have a proper focus on the mess this is going to make for everyone
    Not a big fan of temporary departments. And, with Brexit (as with EU affairs generally) this is something all departments are going to have to be across equally. The problem with coralling Brexit into a separate department is that if it's their responsibility then it's not the responsiblity of, e.g., Agriculture, or Business & Enterprise, or whoever, to worry about it.

    Brexit requires a whole-of-government response. I don't think a separate department is the best way to achieve that; probably more a specialist unit in Dept of the Taoiseach or Dept of Foreign Affairs leading and coordinating a whole-of-government response, and providing support to individual departments.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,544 ✭✭✭Samaris


    This question has been bugging me since the dept started releasing the TV license ads. One of these three things is not like the others and all.

    Does give it a feel of the 'odds and ends' office.


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,742 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    Samaris wrote: »
    This question has been bugging me since the dept started releasing the TV license ads. One of these three things is not like the others and all.

    Does give it a feel of the 'odds and ends' office.
    Well, it has evolved out of the various commercial activities that the state used to engage in directly, or through semi state agencies. Posts and Telegraphs used to run the post office which ran mail, telephone, telegraph, broadcasting and banking services. The ESB was (and still is) involved in electricity generation and transmission. Transport supervised state bodies which provided bus and rail services. Etc.

    Increasingly these commercial activities have been privatised or at least moved to an arm's-length relationship with the government. As a result the sponsoring departments became less involved in service provision and more involved in policy formation and market regulation. The now-reduced-in-size sponsoring departments were grouped in 1991 as the Department of Tourism, Transport and Communications, which in time became the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications, which in turn became, logically enough, the Department of Public Enterprise - an umbrella sponsoring department for all the various sector of the economy in which state enterprises, or former state enterprises, are significant players. There was a certain logic here, in that market regulation activities, policies and functions have a good deal in common regardless of the particular market sector being regulated.

    However that came to an end in 2002 when the Communications and Energy functions were transferred across to Marine and Natural Resources (which then became Communications, Energy and Natural Resources). The "rump" of the Dept of Public Enterprise then became the Dept of Transport again.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    Technically, we can have more than 15 departments if some ministers oversee more than one. Currently there are 17 departments.

    "Communications" should be in with "Dept. of business enterprise and innovation" IMO.
    Its the obvious place to further a national broadband strategy.

    Not sure why "public expenditure and reform" is outside and separate to "Finance". Are these not the same thing?

    "Rural and community development" seems bogus. Nothing there of any interest that is not already covered by other departments, eg primary industries, social protection, education, transport, communications etc...

    I'd also regard "children and youth affairs" as similarly bogus. They are not a different species.

    IMO an ongoing problem we have in Ireland is the separation of three vital things;
    education/training
    jobs/industry
    social protection/ social welfare

    Compare to Germany, where the Chambers of Commerce in each town have a major influence in tailoring the training and education of the youth to the needs of current and future local local employers/industry.
    I think the way to solve this would be to keep the "Dept. of Business enterprise and innovation" but also give it the obligation to interfere in the business of the above three departments for the purpose of coordinating them better.


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,742 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus


    recedite wrote: »
    Not sure why "public expenditure and reform" is outside and separate to "Finance". Are these not the same thing?
    A hundred years ago you'd have been right.

    But at least since Keynes it's been recognised that government finance isn't just, or even mainly, about financing the government. Tax and public spending decisions have major consequences for the national economy, not just for the public finances.

    So, the Dept of Public Exenditure and Reform is all about the delivery of public services in an efficient, effective and accountable way. Whereas the Dept of Finance has a much broader remit.

    You could address both functions in one department, and from time to time they have been. We started out with a single Dept of Finance; in 1973 this this was split into a Dept of Finance and a Dept of the Public Service (both usually having the same minister); then in 1987 responsibility for the public service was transferred back to Finance; then the two were split again in 2011.

    Generally when the two are split it's an indication that a particular political focus is being put on the question of public service reform/modernisation. Finance is a huge department with a sprawling brief and the efficient administration of public services is not politically sexy (there's a reason why in Yes Minister Jim Hacker was Minister for Administrative Affairs ;)) so it can tend to become as second- or third-importance issue if not corralled in this way. That's the idea, anyway, behind splitting the departments.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭recedite


    So you're saying its the Ministry for Public Servants.
    I'm not sure they are worthy of having their own separate ministry any more than the country folk. Come to think of it, most of them are country folk anyway :pac:


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,885 ✭✭✭✭Riskymove


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    So, the Dept of Public Exenditure and Reform is all about the delivery of public services in an efficient, effective and accountable way. Whereas the Dept of Finance has a much broader remit.

    You could address both functions in one department, and from time to time they have been.

    The reform bit came form Department of Taoiseach in 2011 so just putting the two existing Departments would create a very large organisation.

    Given the issues with Justice at present and the proposed split I think it would be a bad idea. At the least Reform should go elsewhere ...probably back to Taoiseachs


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,544 ✭✭✭Samaris


    I don't think it's a bad idea to have a department for youth and childrens affairs. True, they're not a different species, but they are extremely under-represented in terms of being able to understand or vote for candidates that will help them (bearing in mind that stripping out everyone under 18 puts a pretty big dent in it!). They also have specific issues and needs that other voting groups will not particularly need to consider. There certainly should be people in government who speak on their behalf.


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