Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has apologised to the Taoiseach over the Katherine Zappone controversy.
Ahead of his speech at the Fine Gael think-in in Co Meath, the party leader accepted he and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney bore responsibility for its poor performance in recent months.
Talking to members of his parliamentary party and grassroots members over the summer “a lot of them are disappointed and not happy at the fact that Fine Gael has not been at its best, most competent and sharpest for the last couple of weeks and couple of months,” he said.
In relation to the Zappone controversy, Mr Varadkar said he has since apologised to Taoiseach Micheál Martin for not flagging at the time her appointment as a special envoy.
Coalition governments have to be based on “good faith and no surprises”, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“I should have seen the potential political sensitivities in this appointment .. I should have seen that, I didn’t and I have to take responsibility for that. I’ve spoken to the Taoiseach about it.”
On text messages that were wiped between Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney related to the controversy, the Tánaiste said there was need to “do a review and a refresh” of the Freedom of Information Act.
“I think that will be absolutely the right thing to do.”
Speaking about the economy, Mr Varadkar said he was “even more convinced” than he was in June, when he said he expects it to “take off like a rocket”.
Over the last couple of months, there has been a “huge return” to employment, “very good” exchequer figures and taxes coming in.
“We are actually ahead of where we thought we should be at this point in the economic cycle,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said the plan was to eliminate borrowing for anything other than for capital expenditure infrastructure including housing and new hospitals, which would still allow for an annual €500 million tax package and increased spending of €1 billion.
The Tánaiste said he was adamant he wanted to see a welfare package in the upcoming budget for pensioners and people on fixed incomes because the cost of living was rising.
Their standard of living would fall without any such hikes, he added.
Government would also be making savings by the scaling back of Covid pandemic supports.
However, he said Fine Gael had agreed that the Employment Wage Support Subsidy should not be phased out “too quickly”.
While similar furlough supports in the North and Britain are ending next month “we think that is a mistake, we want it to continue into next year,” he said, adding that the likes of the hospitality industry are still not operating at full capacity.
On his being photographed at a festival in London last week, Mr Varadkar said: “It wasn’t a very flattering photo. If the shoe was on the other foot, it is not a photograph I would have posted of someone else. But I am a public figure, and to a certain extent it goes with the territory.”
Mr Varadkar’s partner Matt Barrett wrote a letter to The Irish Times about the privacy issues around the photograph being published in some media.
“Matti s very much his own person I guarantee you and he is able to write letters without my permission,” said Mr Varadkar.
“I’ve been through a lot of these types of things and I don’t let it hold me back.”
Mr Varadkar was criticised for attending the Mighty Hoopla event, especially by those in the Irish entertainment industry affected by Covid-19 restrictions over the last 18 months.
The Tánaiste said he took the view that concerts and major events were being allowed in Ireland two days after the London festival but that he understood the views of those in industries shut down for a year and a half.
Mr Varadkar also vowed to lead Fine Gael into the next election.
IRFU must shoulder some blame for state of women’s rugby in Ireland
Watching the distressed female Irish players trying to console each other after Saturday’s heartbreaking, last-ditch defeat by Scotland in Parma which wrenched World Cup qualification aspirations from their grasp made for a very uncomfortable, almost invasive, watch. It was a relief when the RTÉ cameras panned back to the studio.
Watching Sene Naoupu embracing a tearful Ciara Griffin, it’s a wonder that Naoupu had kept her own emotions under control. Representing Ireland at a World Cup in her native New Zealand would have been such a fitting finale to her stellar career.
Q&A: Can foreigners become civil servants in Spain?
For many Spaniards, landing a stable, paper-pushing civil servant position is the dream.
They know it’s not going to be exciting or to make them rich but they see funcionario work as ‘a job for life’ in a country where the unemployment level is notoriously high and much of the job market is based on temporary summer positions in tourism.
They also like the fact that civil servant jobs pay a decent salary compared with the national average and often work fewer hours too.
Funcionario positions in Public Administration, Social Security and Defense were paid an average of €29,580 gross per year in 2020.
This is higher than the national average gross salary of €24,395 per year, according to stats released by Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), although that’s not to say some civil servants get paid considerably less than the above mentioned salary.
So, if jobs in the civil service are so popular then how can you get one as a foreigner?
Can foreigners in Spain get civil service jobs?
The main answer is yes, you can get a job in the civil service in Spain as a foreigner, however, there are a few requirements.
Those eligible for civil servant jobs in Spain include EU nationals and those who are married to Spanish or EU nationals. You must currently be married and not divorced.
Children of EU nationals who are eligible to work in Spain (over 16 years old) and who are under 21 can also apply, as can those who are over 21 but who are financially dependent on their parents.
Third-country nationals with work and residence permits in Spain may also apply for civil service jobs.
Does this apply to all jobs in the civil service?
No, the only jobs that foreigners can’t apply for and that you must have Spanish nationality for are those which “directly or indirectly imply participation in the exercise of public power or in the safeguarding of the general interests of the State and Public Administrations” according to the Spanish government.
What qualifications do I need?
While some civil service jobs in Spain require a university degree, there are several that don’t.
Whatever types of qualifications you have, however, will have to go through the homologación (recognition) process so that it’s validated and accepted in Spain. Keep in mind that this can take months, and for non-EU qualification holders even longer.
You may also be required to show other proof and certificates.
According to the Spanish government: “This requirement will not apply to applicants who have obtained recognition of their professional qualification in the field of regulated professions, under the provisions of Community law”.
It also goes without saying that you will need a high level of Spanish to get a job as a civil servant and you may need certificates to prove this too. If you’re trying to get a job in Catalonia for example, you may also be required to know Catalan, as well as Spanish.
What are oposiciones?
Oposiciones are the entrance exams you’ll need to sit to become a civil servant in Spain. Each type of position will have its own requirements, some easier and some harder, which involve a series of exams to test your abilities and suitability.
Some positions may require practical exams, while others such as for the police force will require a physical test.
Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP
Is there anything that will prevent me from getting a civil servant job in Spain?
Yes, foreigners should not have received disciplinary action or been fired from similar roles in public service in their own countries.
Also, those who are applying for jobs where they will be in contact with children may have to show a police check from their home country to prove that their record is clean.
What are the advantages of being a civil servant in Spain?
- A decent salary
- You have the right to take holiday days in addition to personal days off
- Your social security is automatically deducted, giving you healthcare and pension rights
- It’s a stable job that you are less likely to be made redundant from
- You have the possibility of transferring to different departments
READ ALSO: The downsides of moving to Spain for work
What are the disadvantages of being a civil servant in Spain?
- It’s a big investment in time and effort to get a job as a civil servant
- The need for qualifications, extra tests, and exams
- The extensive number of requirements and paperwork that needs to be filled out
- Complicated systems as well as old-fashioned and bureaucratic work models
- Monotonous work, where you’re unlikely to face new challenges
- Little to no opportunities for remote employment
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