Wednesday, 31 March 1993
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Reynolds: Thank you, a Chathaoirligh for allowing me to raise this matter on the Adjournment. I welcome the Minister to the House. I raised this matter last year when I was a Member of the Lower House. At that time I explained that County Leitrim was in a unique position, which we would not like to boast about, of being the only county without its own headage livestock office. At the time I asked the Minister to have the matter investigated in the hope of establishing a livestock office in Carrick-on-Shannon; the farming community of County Leitrim is entitled to that privilege and service. The Minister said he would have the matter investigated and since than there has been a number of developments. I do not have the results of the investigation but I hope the Minister will have some good news for me this evening about the establishment of an office.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is currently looking for areas to be brought into the extremely disadvantaged areas category. I know all of County Leitrim should be designated as extremely disadvantaged. This would give the farming community of the county extra headage payments and would also entail extra administrative work for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. This is another reason why an office should be established in Carrick-on-Shannon.
The Land Commission had an office  and six officials in Carrick-on-Shannon but since the commission has been disbanded, this premises is now vacant and would be an ideal location for a headage office. The establishment of a headage office would compensate for the number of public service jobs which were lost in Leitrim when the Land Commission was disbanded.
My main reason for raising this matter on the Adjournment is that I believe County Leitrim is entitled to its own administrative unit. There have been many requests for such an office. The officers in Sligo have carried out their work diligently but from a logistical point of view Leitrim should have its own headage office. I request the Minister to give favourable consideration to my plea.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): I would like to thank Senator Reynolds for raising this important matter. My Department's livestock and headage premia, veterinary and farm development service schemes are operated through a network of local offices situated so as to ensure that an effective service is delivered to the farming community. While all these schemes operate through a local office not all counties are serviced by an office located in that county.
In relation to Leitrim, the Department has an office in Carrick-on-Shannon which operates the farm improvement programme, the control of farmyard pollution scheme and alternative enterprise schemes under the operational programme for rural development.
The processing of livestock and headage premia applications and ERAD operations for County Leitrim are dealt with by our local office in Sligo as this makes for the most effective use of the Department's administrative resources. However, a number of our technical officers dealing with these schemes are headquartered away from the Sligo office and operate from a variety of locations including a number of locations in County Leitrim.
The Senator will be interested to know that currently two officers are headquartered  in Manorhamilton, two in Drumkeeran, three in Mohill, two in Ballinamore, two in Dromahaire, one in Drumshanbo, one in Dowra and one in Jamestown. This provides a network of officers throughout the county who can deal with queries on the schemes.
Furthermore, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has over 50 administrative, professional and technical staff in the Sligo office who process all grant applications and schemes for the counties of Sligo and Leitrim.
I am quite satisfied that the level of service provided by the Sligo office and the staff throughout Leitrim is satisfactory and there is no question that farmers in County Leitrim receive a lower quality of service than elsewhere.
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