Dáil Éireann - Volume 497 - 25 November, 1998
Written Answers - Departmental Staff.
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
34. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands if her attention has been drawn to the fact that recent advertisements by Dúchas to recruit guides and information officers offered payment of less than the level recommended by the Commission on a National Minimum Wage; her views on whether it is appropriate that her Department should be offering less than the recommended national minimum wage; her further views on whether this level of wage will attract candidates of a suitable quality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24787/98]
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera) Síle de Valera
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera): Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, recently placed advertisements for seasonal guides-information officers at various heritage sites throughout the country. The Deputy will be aware of the general position in relation to the national minimum wage, from the comprehensive replies given by my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Employment, Deputy Harney, to questions raised by him and other Deputies in this House on 3 November 1998. Legal effect has yet to be given to the national minimum wage, but an interdepartmental group is currently in the process of formulating proposals and a plan of action to deal with the complex issues which arise from the National Minimum Wage Commission's report.
The entry point on the scale of pay for seasonal guide-information officers, commencing their first employment with Dúchas, is equivalent to £4.38 per hour. While this point is very marginally lower than the rate of £4.40 recommended by the commission, it is hoped to finalise a pay claim shortly which will see that point advance ahead of the minimum rate. It should also be pointed out that the further points on the seasonal guide scale and the scales for all other guides in Dúchas are well ahead of the recommended minimum rate. Pay levels for guide-information officers are determined by reference to general Civil Service rates and therefore cannot be treated in isolation.
As in previous years, I do not anticipate difficulty in recruiting suitable seasonal guides for the 1999 season. Visitors to our heritage sites, from both home and abroad, have always extolled the calibre of our guide service and I am happy to endorse that appreciation. 
Dáil Éireann 497 Written Answers Departmental Staff.