Dear sir, The recent report one Civil Service reform fails to justify the engagement of a separate retinue of Ministerial advisers. We are told that "special advisers' and programme managers provide expert and/or political advice which complements policy advice provided by Government "Departments". The report does not describe the qualifications prescribed, the election process or their distinctive contribution to government.

Two questions might be addressed. Do the advisers duplicate the work of civil servants thereby violating elementary principles of good management? More seriously do they undermine the traditional checks and balances which govern the relationships between civil servants and Ministers? Those officials are professionally committed to serving every lawfully elected government Irrespective of its political persuasion but, as an institution, the Civil, Service is also a guardian of the public interest. Hence civil servants always assess public policy proposals from that wider perspective, creating a wholesome dialectic as between the politician and the administrator. This critical process could be seriously damaged through the intervention of personal advisers who may be committed to a different agenda. Not a good omen for strategic management. Yours, etc., Churchtown, Dublin 14.