Fine Gael has told its headquarters staff it is starting a programme of redundancies in anticipation of a huge drop in State funding after the general election result.
General secretary Tom Curran addressed staff on Thursday and told them that the party needed to make savings of €1.2 million from its annual budget. Some €800,000 of this would be in salary costs, Mr Curran told staff, with a further €400,000 in other cost savings.
State funding is provided for political parties under two schemes. The first (under the electoral Acts) is related to the share of the vote achieved by the party at the most recent general election, while the second (the leaders’ allowance) depends on the party’s number of TDs and Senators.
Fine Gael will see a sharp drop in State funding after suffering heavy losses in the general election. In the last Dáil it received about €5 million a year between the two schemes.
Fine Gael currently employs 35 staff between its Mount Street headquarters and as part of its regional structure around the country.
A small number of staff at Leinster House are paid for by the party, but most political staff at Leinster House are funded by the State through the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.
These staff will also see a sharp drop in their numbers, though the full extent of the cut will not be clear until after the Seanad elections. They will be offered a State-backed redundancy programme.
A voluntary redundancy scheme will also be offered to party headquarters staff, though it is thought that compulsory redundancies will not be ruled out. Another meeting with staff is scheduled for next week.
Labour staff cuts
The Labour Party has already let go a large number of staff employed for the general election who were brought in on temporary contracts. Labour’s general secretary Brian McDowell said the party was in negotiations with staff at present about a redundancy programme.
The Labour Party previously employed about 20 staff in its head office, and this number is likely to be cut drastically in the coming weeks.
One party source said that headquarters staff numbers were likely to be slashed to a handful, but Mr McDowell declined to comment on a specific number, as negotiations were ongoing.