herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Foreign Affairs' €170k bill for language classes

THE Department of Foreign Affairs has spent over €170,000 on language classes for its staff over the past year, new figures show.

In a written response provided prior to yesterday's reshuffle, the outgoing Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore confirmed that between June 2013 and the end of May this year his department spent over €300,000 on third level and training programmes for staff.

Along with the €172,020 spent on language tuition, the Department spent €84,975 on third level fees and an additional €43,671 'on other courses and programmes'.

In his reply to Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald, former Minister Gilmore said: "Given the nature of diplomatic service, my Department also makes a significant investment in language tuition.

"Other courses and training programmes regularly delivered include a comprehensive training programme for those members of my Department taking up foreign postings, with modules on trade promotion, economic themes, provision of consular services, personal safety, public diplomacy and human rights.

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"Training is also routinely provided for staff in key areas such as management development, performance management, leadership, positive working environment, macroeconomics, communication skills, social media and customer service. In-house expertise is used wherever possible."

The spend on languages is not confined to the Department of Foreign Affairs with the Department of Arts and Heritage spending €31,963 on staff sitting courses to obtain certificates in professional Irish.

Staff in the Department took some off-seat courses in the 
past year with a sea survival course costing €300 and scuba-diving course costing the same amount.

Meanwhile the Department of Agriculture's spend on training and courses amounted to €752,211 and it includes an outlay of €675 on 'Food safety (ice cream) workshop'.

The Department has a sometimes testy relationship with farmers and one of the largest outlays by the Department on training last year was the €28,160 spend on 'conflict management and resolution'.

hnews@herald.ie

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