McCarthy Report

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The Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was an advisory committee established by the Irish government in 2008 to recommend cuts in public spending. It was chaired by economist Colm McCarthy. It published two volumes of findings, commonly known as the McCarthy report, on 16 July 2009.

The group described a potential €5.3bn of savings, including 17,300 public service job cuts and a 5% cut in social welfare.[1]


The committee, colloquially dubbed "An Bord Snip Nua" by newspaper journalists, was a committee with a similar remit to one established in 1987, known as "An Bord Snip". Bord Snip is a mix of English and Irish words that can be translated as "snip board". Bord Snip Nua means the new Bord Snip. The name is intended to be humorous. Many state agencies in Ireland have the words an bord (meaning "the board") in their title, such as Bord Iascaigh Mhara (the Irish Sea-Fisheries Board); "snip" refers to the cost-cutting remit of the group.


Due to the global financial crisis, a construction sector collapse and a fall in bank lending, an Irish financial crisis began in 2008. Tax revenue from value-added tax (a form of sales tax), stamp duty and capital gains tax fell sharply. An additional income levy on 1% and 2% was introduced to compensate for some of these falls. The government expected a €6 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year 2009.

There were thus calls for the formation of a new board to identify areas for cuts in public expenditure. The Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, appointed an expert group to recommend cuts.[2]

Members of the group[edit]


The Taoiseach Brian Cowen, stated that the: "Special Group's examination of all programmes funded through public expenditure will focus on whether scarce financial resources are being deployed to achieve priority policy objectives. The Group will identify options for savings in the context of the Government's fiscal objectives as set out in Budget 2009. It will also ensure that public expenditure is being used to address relevant priority policy objectives in the current fiscal environment."[4]

  • The group was charged with identifying cuts in spending and staff numbers, quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations) that could be merged or abolished, and ways to get better value for taxpayers' money.
  • The group had scope to examine the terms and conditions, tenure and pension entitlements of new recruits to the public service.
  • The group was charged with identifying expenditure programmes to be cut or stopped, with a view to eliminating the budget deficit by 2011.


In March 2010, Lenihan said that, of the report's 271 recommendations, the government had decided to implement 32 in full and 89 in part, with projected savings for the year estimated at €1.7b.[5] In June, Lenihan said that the government had implemented 42 in full and 103 in part, and that the report remained under consideration.[6] Later that year, various ministers answered Dáil questions outlining the savings made by their departments:

Department (office) Minister Date of answer (link to details)
Finance (general public service) Brian Lenihan 30 September 2010
Finance (departmental) Brian Lenihan 14 October 2010
Finance (Office of Public Works and National Treasury Management Agency) Brian Lenihan 17 November 2010
Finance (Revenue Commissioners, Valuations Office, public appointments offices, Ombudsman) Brian Lenihan 25 November 2010
Taoiseach Brian Cowen 23 November 2010
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith 14 October 2010
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan 14 October 2010
Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Pat Carey 5 October 2010
Defence Tony Killeen 14 October 2010
Education and Skills Mary Coughlan 17 November 2010
Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O'Keeffe 14 October 2010
Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley 19 October 2010
Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin 14 October 2010
Health and Children Mary Harney 14 October 2010
Justice and Law Reform Dermot Ahern 14 October 2010
Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív 7 December 2010
Tourism, Culture and Sport Mary Hanafin 24 November 2010
Transport Noel Dempsey 17 December 2009

See also[edit]



  1. ^ 'Bord Snip' reveals €5.3bn savings plan Archived 9 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine RTÉ.ie 16 July 2009
  2. ^ "Public service must be reformed". The Irish Times. 27 November 2008. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
  3. ^ "Members of An Bord Snip are named". Business World. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
  4. ^ "Taoiseach's Statement on Transforming Public Service". Department of the Taoiseach. 27 November 2008. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
  5. ^ Written Answers – Departmental Reports Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Dáil debates, 10 March 2010
  6. ^ Written Answers – Departmental Reports Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Dáil debates, 7 July 2010

External links[edit]