The board of management of Clare LES advised FÁS on 15 December last that they were discontinuing operations effective from 30 January 2004. A decision of this nature is a matter solely for the board. A meeting was held in the Dáil on Wednesday, 21 January 2004, between myself and representatives of Clare Local Employment Service staff to discuss the imminent closure of the Clare LES. Also present were a number of other Clare public representatives including the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, a union representative, two departmental officials and two representatives of FÁS.
It was pointed out that while the board of Clare LES is made up of representatives from the statutory and voluntary sectors, and the operation of the service is funded by FÁS, it is nonetheless a separate legal entity and I have no function in relation to the internal workings of a body of this kind. I did, however, agree to ask FÁS to immediately commence an assessment of the labour market data and needs of the Clare region in the context of the closure of the LES. This assessment will include the type and level of a dedicated employment service necessary to address the needs of marginalised client groups in the region, including structures, management, staffing and other relevant requirements of any such service. I have asked FÁS to come back to me with proposals in relation to an enhanced dedicated service for Clare as soon as possible.