Thursday, 27 June 2013
Decentralisation Programme Office Accommodation
It is a great pleasure to welcome the Minister of State in his new role at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and I wish him luck with his endeavours. He is well placed to serve in that office as he is very familiar with the issues. I am sure he is very familiar with the matter I wish to raise, namely, the decentralisation of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine offices to Portlaoise.
Decentralisation was a good concept but was appallingly thought out. Its implementation and roll-out was even poorer and, in some cases, it ended up being a fiasco in that much of what was promised when it was first announced by the then Minister never came to fruition. However, I am glad to say Portlaoise has been one of the success stories. It is a suitable and central location for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine offices but it is a victim of its own success in some respects. While many people work in the base in Portlaoise, the Department's offices are no longer just in the purpose-built office accommodation on the Old Abbeyleix Road in the town centre but are dispersed in six different rented office spaces throughout the town. That does not make for effective and efficient use of the offices and the personnel and it is not appropriate for the agricultural community which seeks to use the Department's services.
One office is over a pub and a fish and chip shop and is remote from the central office. I do not know why that is the case and it should not continue. I understand that as of November last, the Department is spending tens of thousands of euro on office accommodation in these dispersed locations. I am sure the Minister of State will agree that it would be far more efficient and effective if all the staff were housed in a purpose-built or a central unit in which they could all work together for the effective administration of the Department's business. This would save the taxpayer money and it would mean all the staff were housed in the one complex.