Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
462. Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the transfer of the district veterinary office and other facilities from Portlaoise as a result of the recent announcement; the practical implications for same in terms of persons in County Laois who have normally dealt with this office and the staffing implications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35755/09]
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Brendan Smith): On 15th July, the Government approved my plan for a reorganisation of my Department’s Local Office Network. The plan involves reducing, from 57 to 16, the number of offices from which the Department will operate District Veterinary, Forestry and Agricultural Environment and Structures support services in the future. This will result in a reduction of some 400 in the number of staff working in my Department.
The decisions on which offices to retain and which to close have nothing to do with the performance of any office or staff, rather decisions were made in relation to the overall strategy and against a background of major changes in the Department’s operating environment in recent years brought about by the impact of the Single Farm Payment, benefits derived from substantial investment in Information Communications Technology and significant reductions in the incidence of disease.
The sudden and significant decline in the public finances since 2008 has required all of us to examine our expenditure to identify possible savings and you will be aware that major changes on the programme side of the Department have been implemented in recent months. When fully implemented this reorganisation will deliver very significant annual savings. While this reorganisation will yield significant savings for the exchequer, no staff will be made redundant.
Improvements in business processes, information technology and communications will allow the Department to provide a quality service to our clients from the 16 enhanced offices set out in the plan. The first phase of the re-organisation will involve the enhancement of four regional offices, Drumshanbo, Navan, Enniscorthy and Waterford, and consequential office closures in Sligo, Longford, Drogheda, Carlow, Kilkenny, Dundalk, Wicklow and Dungarvan.
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