By Harry Keaney
For some time, there has been unprecedented demand in Ireland’s job market for people with skills and experience in software and computers. And last week, the Irish Echo carried a report on Ireland’s nursing shortage. Now comes a claim by the president of the Law Society of Ireland that the country’s civil service is being seriously undermined by staff shortages because civil servants are not paid enough.
Anthony Ensor, who heads the Irish lawyers’ representative body, said public-service pay needs to be overhauled and significant increases paid to compete with the private sector.
Ensor is particularly concerned over the running down of important legal services, such as the land registry, which deals with property ownership; the probate office, which handles wills, and the wards of court office, which administers the affairs of vulnerable people who cannot do so themselves.
"All of these are important services which have a real impact on people’s lives," Ensor said.
As a result, people trying to sell new houses are finding they cannot because their ownership is not registered. In the case of the wards of court office, staff are doing excellent work, but are faced with a two-year backlog due to staff shortages, Ensor said. A similar situation prevails in the probate office. There, bereaved relatives face additional stress because they cannot have their deceased loved one’s affairs put in order.
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Senator Joe O’Toole, incoming president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, welcomed Ensor’s remarks. "The public sector is turning into a cheap training ground for the private sector. If somebody is worth the money in the private sector they have to be worth it in the public sector," O’Toole said.
The holding company of the rock band U2, Not Us Limited, made a loss of just under £1 million in 1998 to bring its retained losses to £8.5 million, according to accounts filed at the Companies Office.
Not Us, whose principal activity is listed as the promotion of musical events, showed an improvement on the previous year, 1997, when it finished with a loss of £7.5 million.
The major item in the £832,899 trading loss was administration costs — which amounted to £469,878 — while a trading loss of £363,021 and an interest bill of £141,776, together with a tiny tax bill of £827, brought the total loss for the year to £976,298.
Not Us Ltd. had debts of £12.2 million, comprising principally of trade and other debtors who owed the company £8.5 million. Subsidiary companies owed Not Us £3.6 million at year end, while also listed is a tax rebate of £77,007 due for 1998.
On the other side of the balance sheet, Not Us owed its subsidiaries a total of over £10 million, while it had trade creditors who were owed a further £1.8 million.