My Department has been making good progress in the relocation of the required 250 posts to Carlow under the Government's Decentralisation Programme. The following business units/Offices of my Department are earmarked for decentralisation:
Companies Registration Office/Registry of Friendly Societies
National Employment Rights Authority (NERA)
Redundancy Payments Section
Insolvency Payments Section
Officials of my Department, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the OPW, as well as decentralising staff and Business Units opened an advance office in Carlow on July 30th 2007. The number of posts in this decentralised advance office is 100.
With regard to the property side of the Department's move, the OPW completed the purchase of a site in Carlow town centre for the construction of my Department's permanent office in Carlow. My colleague Minister of State Noel Ahern TD, announced on 13th December 2007 that the OPW has invited The Macquarie Partnership to become the ‘Successful Tenderer' in respect of this decentralisation project. This forms part of a major PPP project, which also involves the provision of office accommodation for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Portlaoise and the Department of Education and Science in Mullingar. I am hopeful, subject to no planning issues arising, that construction of the permanent office will be completed in late 2009.
Under the Government Decentralisation Programme, announced in December 2003, six of the Agencies under the aegis of my Department are due to decentralise or have already been decentralised, as follows:
Under the Government's decentralisation programme, FÁS is due to transfer its head office including some 383 posts to Birr, County Offaly. FÁS currently has 21 staff members based in Birr who are working out of offices located within the Birr Technology Centre.
FÁS has completed the purchase of 5.59 acres (approximately) in Birr, Co Offaly. A Planning Application is currently being progressed on behalf of FÁS by the vendor's Consultant Engineers and Architects, in discussion with the Consulting Engineers and Architects representing FÁS. In the meantime, since 6 May 2007 FáS has leased a floor of a building within the Birr Technology Centre to accommodate staff in the decentralised location pending the construction and fitting out of a permanent Headquarters. Enterprise Ireland Enterprise Ireland (EI) is to move 300 posts to Shannon under the decentralisation programme. Progress on the full transfer of EI's HQ to Shannon, within the Government decentralisation programme, will be influenced by many factors including among others, the level of interest in the Shannon location expressed by CAF applicants and progress made in discussions at a national level. To date, no post has moved to Shannon under this scheme.
Enterprise Ireland (EI) working closely with the Office of Public Works (OPW) has identified, but not yet acquired, a preferred site for the construction of a new HQ building in Shannon. The preferred site is a 13-acre site owned by Shannon Development. The site occupies a prime position in Shannon and is considered suitable for a major landmark building or civic structure.
EI now has a major presence in the Shannon region. EI has established its new National Regional Development Headquarters in Shannon and has established the County Enterprise Support Unit in Shannon. Currently there are 40 staff working in the Shannon office and it is expected that approximately 65 EI staff will be in place in Shannon over the coming months. A senior manager has been appointed as Head of Regions and Entrepreneurship to oversee the establishment of the EI presence in the Mid-West Region. EI managers with responsibility for the County Enterprise Coordination Unit and EI Regional Development strategy as well as the Regional Director with responsibility for the Mid West Regional are now in place in the Shannon office. As part of EI's regional strategy, these six posts were assigned to the new office in Shannon from Dublin.
Health and Safety Authority
The Health and Safety Authority is to move 110 posts to Thomastown, Co Kilkenny as part of the decentralisation programme. To date a total of 65 civil and public servants, including 12 Authority staff, have expressed an interest through the Central Application Facility (CAF) process in transferring to Thomastown.
In advance of decentralising to Thomastown, the Authority established an interim office in Kilkenny city. Currently, 27 staff, including 3 of the 12 internal HSA Thomastown applicants, are based in Kilkenny, and including also new staff recruited for the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) strategy. All staff currently accommodated in the interim office will move to Thomastown once the new premises are ready for occupation.
The Commissioners of Public Works have signed a contract to purchase the site in Thomastown. A condition of the contract is that the vendor obtains the appropriate zoning for the site so that the Commissioners' planned development can take place. The required change of zoning has now been granted and the sale should close shortly.
When the purchase is completed, expressions of interest for the design and build phase will be invited from interested parties. It will be a matter for the successful tenderer to apply for planning permission at that stage. The current estimated timeline for availability for occupancy is 2009/2010.
Under the Government's decentralisation programme the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is due to relocate to Arklow, Co. Wicklow. The number required to decentralise from the NSAI is 132. A total of 10 Dublin based staff of the NSAI have applied to decentralise to Arklow. In addition a further 86 Dublin based civil and public servants have applied for decentralisation to Arklow. No staff from the NSAI have transferred to Arklow to date.
The accommodation requirements for the NSAI in Arklow are being addressed by the OPW. To date no progress has been made by the OPW in identifying or securing suitable office accommodation in the Arklow area. The current NSAI implementation plan anticipates a target date of April 2009 as the completion date.
National Consumer Agency (NCA)
The National Consumer Agency (NCA), which will be located in Cork City, was formally established on 1st May 2007. The NCA is currently staffed by employees of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment seconded to assist the Agency. The precise location of the Agency within Cork City, is under consideration at present. The Department of Finance has granted sanction for an overall complement of 80 members of staff. Furthermore, discussions are ongoing with the Department of Finance in relation to the manner in which the Central Applications Facility shall apply to the relocation. The Agency is expected to relocate to Cork in the course of 2009.
Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA)
he Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) was established in December, 2005, and moved to its offices in Naas, Co. Kildare in the following month. All IAASA staff have been based in its offices in Co Kildare since its establishment, and as such the Authority is fully decentralised. Its offices are leased on its behalf by the Office of Public Works, said lease being for 20 years expiring in September, 2025.