Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Questions (198)

Paul Connaughton


198. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the opposition in County Roscommon to the proposed reduction in staff numbers and consequent reduction in service to the farming community at his Department office in Roscommon town; if his further attention has been drawn to the importance of this office to livestock exporters who, on a regular basis, need quick, direct access to his Department's personnel; if he is aware that the Roscommon office is strategically located to provide such urgent services to vast areas of counties Galway, Mayo, Longford and Sligo; if he will consider the original decision in favour of a regional type service based in Roscommon town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45303/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The position is that, following on from the successful restructuring of my Department's local office network, which reduced the number of local offices from 58 to 16, my Department has decided to centralise the administrative support currently provided in the local offices into two centres.

The decision to centralise the administrative support is based on a review by the Department of the business processes and procedures and, in particular, the administrative support requirements, in its remaining Local Offices. This review concluded that, arising from the substantial reduction in disease levels and the changes introduced earlier this year in relation to the implementation of controls in the context of the TB eradication programme, the number of administrative staffing required in the local offices would be significantly reduced and that further significant efficiencies in terms of the number of administrative staff required would accrue from the centralisation of administrative support in one or more centralised office(s). I have accepted this recommendation and I have decided that the centralised offices should be based in Cavan and Portlaoise. The choice of these two centres is based on the fact that, arising from the Government's decision to centralise human resources and payroll services, the staff required to provide the administrative support to the local offices will be available in these two centres as the centralised human resources and payroll services is rolled out across all Departments.

I would like to emphasise that the centralisation of the administrative functions of the local offices should not negatively impact upon local access and services for local customers and experience to-date indicates that there has been no negative impact on the services provided by these offices. In the event that the administrative support currently available in the Roscommon office is centralised, the Department vets, inspectors, technical officers and limited administrative support will remain in place in the Roscommon office and will continue to provide an effective service our clients across all of the schemes that are provided from that office. In view of this, I am satisfied that frontline services will be fully maintained and public access for all of the Departments stakeholders will continue to be available at the Roscommon office, including to livestock exporters.