In her speech, as reported in the Irish Times of 21 July, the TÃ¡naiste warned a number of professions that the Government will not back down in its drive to increase competition and get better value as it tackles the economic crisis. Specifying â€œengineers, architects, the legal profession and othersâ€ she observed that there were sectors which had yet to feel â€œthe chill winds of economic realityâ€ and accused them of â€œeconomic conceitâ€. She also referred to Competition Authority reports on banking, utilities, and professional services such as engineers, architects, the legal profession, dentists and others.
The following is the text of a letter by the RIAI Director to the Irish Times on this extraordinary speech. The RIAI President will be making a more detailed response to the Minister. If Members would like to inform the TÃ¡naiste of their own particular experiences of "the chill winds of economic reality", her department's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org (please copy the RIAI email@example.com in any correspondence).
The TÃ¡naiste shows a worrying disconnect with reality when she referred to â€œarchitectsâ€ as being a sector which had yet to feel the â€œchill winds of economic realityâ€. As has been widely reported over 40% of architects have been made redundant. The RIAI has a significant number of members on Job Seekers Allowance or paying reduced charges because of financial hardship. Many architects in employment have experienced pay cuts and three day weeks. How chilly does it have to get to reach the TÃ¡naisteâ€™s attention?
For Public Sector projects the TÃ¡naiste should be aware that architectural services are procured on a competitive basis in accordance with EU and Department of Finance procedures. She must also be aware that architects donâ€™t have recommended, mandatory or minimum fee scales. On the Competition Authority Report, I would expect the TÃ¡naiste or her Officials to have read the Report or at least the Executive Summary before making a public statement because the Report was very clear: â€œthe Competition Authority has only a small number of concerns about how the architectural profession operates in Ireland. Unlike some other professions reviewed by the Competition Authority architects are not restricted by layers of unjustified or disproportionate restrictions or competition. Competition seems to be working well for consumers of architectural services and the economy as a wholeâ€.
The TÃ¡naiste might be better employed in examining the wide spread evasion by some Government Departments and State bodies generally of Prompt Payment Legislation and why her recent announcement of a fifteen days payment period by Government term was greeted by incredulity among architects.
If the TÃ¡naisteâ€™s address is indicative of the level of research and evidence based policy in her Department on matters of public record, as we face an unprecedented economic crisis, then it wonâ€™t just be architects who are made redundant but the entire Country.
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