I propose to take Questions Nos. 920, 996 and 1003 together.
My Department is co-operating actively with the implementation committee and the Department of Finance in relation to the decentralisation programme announced in budget 2004. This envisages the decentralisation of all Dublin based functions of my Department, with the exception of Met Éireann and some local based services, to Wexford, which will serve as headquarters, Waterford, New Ross and Kilkenny. Some 660 Dublin based staff are currently involved in discharging these functions. My Department considers that a survey of its staff, and that of other Departments, to determine interest in transferring to these south eastern locations will most valuably be undertaken when greater clarification on detailed arrangements is available following,inter alia, the report of the Implementation Committee.
My Department has set up an internal implementation team for decentralisation which will report regularly to me and my Department's management advisory committee. I intend that there will be full and timely communication with staff of the Department on the progress of the decentralisation programme, through the Department's partnership committee and otherwise. My Department is also committed to developing innovative approaches to information management, communications and logistics so as to maintain and improve the quality of service to be delivered under decentralised arrangements and to minimise disruption.