I propose to take Questions Nos. 260, 267 and 268 together.
I have already made it clear that the decentralisation programme will operate on a voluntary basis. Civil and public servants who do not wish to transfer to a decentralised location will be assigned to alternative posts in Dublin. The exact procedures which will apply in such cases will be dealt with as part of the implementation process and will be discussed with the public service unions.
Decentralisation will inevitably change the way in which the public service will operate in the future. In the case of promotion prospects, there will continue to be broadly speaking the same opportunities across the Civil Service but the impact on the individuals — both those serving in Dublin and outside Dublin — will depend upon a variety of factors. The decentralised nature of the Civil Service will mean that people, particularly those at the more senior levels, will in the future have to consider their career prospects in the light of the opportunities that arise both in Dublin and outside Dublin. I expect, for example, that the question of regional promotion structures is an issue that is likely to arise in the discussions with the unions.
One of the advantages of the decentralisation programme is that it will create a wider range of work and career opportunities for individuals working outside Dublin than is currently the case. Present and future civil servants who aspire to senior management positions will no longer have to migrate to the capital, although many may well continue to do so. Similarly, individuals serving in Dublin will be able to pursue their careers within Dublin but again, many may choose to avail of promotion opportunities in decentralised offices.