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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 26 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 7

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Policy of State-Sponsored Body.


Mr. T. Dunne, Mr. P. Hogan

(South Tipperary) and Mr D. Jones asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware that it is the policy of a State-sponsored body to transfer a major portion of its administrative section from the provinces to Dublin; and whether he is prepared to allow such a proposal to be implemented as it appears to be in direct conflict with Government policy to decentralise.

I assume that the Deputies have in mind the recent decision of Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann Teoranta to move its computer centre from Thurles to Dublin. I understand that the decision to transfer the centre to Dublin, which is the administrative and marketing centre of the CSET group, is essential in the interests of efficiency. The decision was taken following an intensive study of the situation over a period of nine months both within the group and by outside consultants.

The transfer of the computer to the Dublin headquarters will involve a staff of 22 out of a total of 832 persons employed by the CSET group in the Thurles area. In view of the small number of staff involved and the need to bring the administrative units together in order to achieve maximum efficiency the decision taken by CSET cannot be regarded as being in conflict with Government policy on decentralisation. In fact, of a total work force of some 5,000 employed by the CSET group only 160 are in Dublin.

When the Minister mentions a figure of 800 he is relating it to labour content rather than clerical employment. Is the Minister aware that the Taoiseach has refused to meet a deputation from Thurles Urban Council and from the Chamber of Commerce and will the Minister state whether he has been requested to meet a deputation from the urban council?

Has the Minister agreed to meet that deputation?

I do not think in all fairness it would be appropriate for me to receive a deputation from the Thurles Urban District Council on a matter of this sort which is a commercial question for the company. I cannot expect CSET and Erin Foods to do a good commercial job if they have to be referring to me for every single decision of this sort they want to take and I do not think it is appropriate for either me or the urban district council to be sending deputations to each other about matters of this sort.

I take it this decision was taken in the interest of efficiency and economy?

Yes and they gave it nine months' consideration before they did it. I am sure Deputy Dunne would be one of the first to complain if these companies did not operate with efficiency and give a good return to the farmers whom he is supposed represent.

I do not think this relates to farmers. It relates to the people concerned and I would ask the Minister——

There is no company in this country whose efficiency is of more concern to the farmers of this country than these two.

If that is the case something that is related to the farmers should be placed in an agricultural area. Will the Minister meet a deputation not from the urban council but from the development area for which they employed a consultant, Mr. Lichfield, who advised them on the feasibility of instituting industries in that area of Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary?

If everybody else did as well for that area as Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann Teo. the area would have nothing to worry about because since 1961 the group as a whole established a central packing station, a mushroom farm and a pulp development project all at Thurles. The capital investment involved is in excess of £1 million and over 350 new jobs have been created.

Not a bad performance for what was described as a white elephant.

Would the Minister not consider leaving the computer in Thurles until the management structure becomes more clear?

All the changes I have mentioned have taken place since 1961.

Well, maybe the elephant's grandfather, the elephant who was the source of the whole performance.

The elephant has a long gestation period.