Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (454)

Tom Fleming

Question:

454. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will ensure his Department's office in Tralee, County Kerry remains open, and is adequately staffed and resourced to allow for the excellent service to the county's farming community to continue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11682/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I would like to emphasise that the Tralee office will remain open. The position is that the administrative functions are being transferred to the Portlaoise office, but the Department’s vets, inspectors and technical officers will remain in place at the existing local offices to service our clients across all of the schemes that are provided from these offices. Frontline services will be fully maintained and public access for all of the Departments stakeholders will continue to be available in the Tralee office.

The transfer of the administrative functions out of the Tralee office arises from an extensive review of the local office structure which was carried out by the Department over the last number of years. This review concluded that, arising from investment in technology and the substantial reduction in disease levels in recent years, significant efficiencies would accrue from the centralisation of administrative functions in two centres, thereby giving rise to significant scope for redeployment of administrative staff from existing local offices. The process of centralising the administrative functions commenced in 2012 and is on-going.

In line with Government policy, my Department has actively sought redeployment opportunities for administrative staff in local Offices and staff have already been transferred from the local offices in Limerick, Tipperary, Enniscorthy, Waterford and Tullamore to other Departments and agencies, such as the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Justice, in order to enable those bodies to provide important services, including the property tax, Garda vetting etc. My Department will continue to maintain a public office in Tralee and, indeed, in all of the locations from which the administrative functions are being transferred. The centralisation of administrative support should not impact negatively upon local access and services for local customers.