Officials of my Department have had a preliminary meeting with the Higher Education and Training Awards Council and other bodies under the aegis of my Department regarding decentralisation. The purpose of these meetings was to facilitate an exchange of information. The decentralisation policy decided by the Government and announced by the Minister for Finance on budget day 2003 provides for the transfer of some 10,300 civil servants to various locations outside of Dublin. Included in this policy is the transfer of HETAC and its staff to Edenderry, County Offaly.
It is not open to me to make an exception to this stated Government policy nor do I see any reason why this should be done. I would reiterate that the decentralisation is voluntary and that those members of HETAC staff who do not wish to transfer to the organisation's new location will not be compelled to do so. It has also been made clear that this policy will be implemented in an orderly fashion with full consultation with staff interests.