Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (227)

Richard Bruton


343 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he has carried out a survey of civil servants in each of the grades represented by the CPSSA, the CPSEU, and the AHCPS, to ascertain the numbers in each grade who wish to decentralise to each of the proposed locations; if he will state the number in each grade who have confirmed their wish to do so; and if no such survey has yet been carried out if he will indicate the arrangements in place to do so and the date by which the survey will be complete. [1968/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

I have not undertaken a survey of civil servants in the grades referred to by the Deputy to ascertain the numbers who wish to transfer to each of the locations included in the decentralisation programme. This is something which, no doubt, the implementation committee chaired by Mr. Flynn will be considering in drawing up its proposed implentation plan. My own view is that conducting such a survey in advance of clearer timelines for the sequencing of all the various moves would be of limited value.

More generally, I believe that the very scale of the programme, including as it does a wide mix of locations all around the country, should help to attract volunteers. There are thousands of public servants commuting daily to Dublin, some from the immediate neighbouring counties of Wicklow, Kildare and Meath but many others from even further away. The decentralisation programme offers these people the prospect of a significantly improved quality of life by providing work much closer to home. In these cases people can simply change their commuting habits by engaging in reverse commuting and reducing their time on the roads each morning and evening.

For many others, there is the opportunity to relocate away from Dublin altogether and to start a new life outside the capital. Those who doubt that there will be sufficient interest often refer to difficulties experienced in attracting sufficient numbers to particular locations previously. My view is that the single biggest impediment to encouraging sufficient numbers to relocate previously was the prospect of not being able to fulfil their career prospects. This impediment has now been removed. I believe that every individual who joins the civil service is entitled to aspire to becoming Secretary General one day. The new programme means this can become a real aspiration for staff serving outside Dublin