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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 26 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 7

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Sugar Company Computers.


asked the Minister for Finance if he will have the decision reversed to transfer the computer of the Irish Sugar Company to Dublin from Thurles in view of the hardship which will be caused to the workers and families involved in the transfer.


asked the Minister for Finance when the decision to move the computer complex of the Irish Sugar Company from Thurles was made; by whom; and whether the computer programmers, operators and their families were consulted prior to the decision being reached.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 53 together.

I understand from Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann Teoranta that the question of transferring the computer from Thurles, in the interests of efficiency, had been under consideration for nine months both by the company and by outside consultants and that the final decision was taken by the Board of the company on 6th March. The staff involved consists of three married men and 24 single men and girls; the company also employees over 800 other people in Thurles. The decision was announced to the staff on 12 March, and each member was given the option of transfer to the office of the Thurles sugar factory without loss of salary or status.

It is the intention of the company that no hardship to staff will result from the decision to move the computer. Disturbance allowances, removal expenses and subsistence allowances will be paid in accordance with the company's usual practice. In addition a compensation allowance will be paid to the staff on transfer to Dublin.

It is a standard condition of employment of all permanent staff that while in the company's employment they will be required to work at whatever location the company may from time to time decide and to carry out the duties assigned to them by management. The company had explained that this condition is essential for efficiency in a large complex group like the Irish Sugar Company.

I am satisfied that no hardship will be caused to the workers and the families involved in the transfer.

Could the Minister tell us whether he was consulted before the decision was taken to remove the computer from Thurles or could he give any estimate of the loss to the Irish Sugar Company?

I was not consulted and I would not normally be consulted in a matter of this sort. The semi-State companies have freedom in their commercial operation. They are expected to run their affairs efficiently and competently and decisions of this nature are taken by them without reference to me or to the Government. It seems clear that all the examination of this matter which had been made by the company itself and by their consultants indicated that this was an essential step to take.

Would the Minister state whether he is satisfied that this decision was taken at the proper time? The fact is that apparently they have been working at a complete loss, according to the Minister, in Thurles and in view of the Government's decision to decentralise industries is it not a very wrong decision to take a potential industry from the south of Ireland?

Quite frankly I would prefer if the company did not have to take this decision but there will still be a very considerable number of their staff in Thurles. There will be over 800 people left and only about 23 people are affected by this transfer. We would all expect this company to operate efficiently and apparently it is essential for efficient operation for this computer to be in Dublin. Both the Sugar Company and Erin Foods now have a very difficult marketing job to do and this computer apparently is part of their marketing operation and they were under a very severe handicap apparently in running their marketing operations efficiently by not having this computer in Dublin. I am told they came to this conclusion with reluctance but it is one they could not avoid taking.

What is going to happen——

I am calling Question No. 54.

A Cheann Comhairle——

Who is writing out all the supplementaries?

The puppet on a string.

With your permission——

Deputy T. Dunne has a supplementary question on the previous question.

Question No. 54 concerns the same subject. Perhaps the Deputy will hear the answer to this one first?