Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Ceisteanna (73, 74, 75, 76)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

150 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on decentralisation within his Department; the number of staff in his Department who have indicated their intention not to move to decentralised locations; and his plans regarding the present buildings leased or owned by his Department which will become vacant as a result of decentralisation. [3233/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

159 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps which have been taken within his Department regarding decentralisation. [2990/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

167 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made on the transfer of his Department to Knock, County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3156/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

198 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in regard to proposals for decentralisation, a survey has been undertaken to establish the number of persons employed in his Department, in boards or agencies operating under the aegis of his Department who are willing to move to the new locations announced by the Minister for Finance in his budget speech; the results of such a survey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3106/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150, 159, 167 and 198 together.

I refer the Deputies to my reply to Questions Nos. 1007, 1010, 1013 and 1017 of 27 January 2004. Deputies are aware that my Department will decentralise to two locations. The Irish language functions will go to Na Forbacha, Galway where my Department already has an office and the remaining functions to Knock Airport, County Mayo.

It is also intended to decentralise a section of ADM to Clifden County Galway and, subject to the approval of the North-South Ministerial Council, it is proposed to move 30 staff of Foras na Gaeilge to Gweedore in County Donegal.

To advance the decentralisation process in my Department, a decentralisation unit has been established comprising a higher executive officer and a clerical officer, reporting to the personnel officer. A departmental committee comprising members of senior management and staff has also been established. The first meeting of this committee was held on Wednesday, 14 January and a liaison officer has been appointed to maintain direct contact with the central implementation committee and the Department of Finance.

Two special meetings of the partnership committee have taken place to date to brief staff on issues arising from and relating to decentralisation. Appropriate contacts with union interests are also being maintained and a full briefing of information available to date has been given to the union representatives through our departmental council. Arrangements have also been put in place whereby I will meet with the decentralisation committee on a regular basis.

All staff have access to a special decentralisation corner on our computer network in which relevant information regarding decentralisation is being posted. A regular bulletin will be circulated where answers to questions raised by staff are answered. The first of these issued on 16 January 2004.

No survey to determine the interest of staff in participating in the decentralisation programme has taken place in my Department. However, officials working in the decentralisation unitare at present engaged in compiling an information pack relating to the locations to which the Department will be transferring. It is intended that this information will assist staff in making informed decisions about their future work locations. The Department's training unit will also have a key role in supporting effective communications throughout this challenging change process. Information seminars on the decentralised locations will be held in duecourse.

With regard to ADM, I understand that a survey has been conducted among its staff based throughout the country. All 129 staff members were asked if they would be interested in decentralising to Clifden and replied as follows: eight staff were interested; 79 staff were not interested; 14 did not know; and 28 gave no response. I understand that no survey has been carried out at Foras na Gaeilge.

The Deputies will appreciate that primary responsibility regarding issues relating to office accommodation rests with the Office of Public Works.