Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Ceisteanna (52)

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

135 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his response to concerns expressed by senior and mid-ranking officials in his Department concerning plans for decentralisation of the Department to Killarney; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6120/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism)

I am confident that any of the concerns expressed by officials of my Department regarding decentralisation to Killarney can be addressed. I have established a decentralisation committee in my Department to assist me in driving forward the programme of decentralisation in respect of my Department and its agencies and to ensure that the programme is managed in a way that will be sensitive to the needs of all staff, whether they choose to decentralise or not.

As I see it, one of the main priorities of the decentralisation committee, while implementing Government policy in regard to decentralisation, will be to keep staff informed on an ongoing basis as important issues are clarified and decisions are made. In the meantime, any concerns that staff in my Department may have may be raised through the partnership structures, at departmental council or with any member of my Department's decentralisation committee.

I am aware that decentralisation will change the way in which the public service operates in the future. The new programme will create a wider range of work and career opportunities for individuals working outside Dublin than currently exists. Public 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 many may chose to avail of promotion opportunities in decentralised offices.

I must again remind the Deputy that the decentralisation programme will operate on a voluntary basis. Civil and public servants who do not wish to transfer to Killarney or any other 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, of course, be discussed with the public service unions.

I can assure the Deputy that while I am committed to implementing the programme of decentralisation in so far as my Department and agencies under its aegis are concerned, I also have the utmost regard for the legitimate expectations and views of staff members of my Department and I will do my very best to proceed with the task in a spirit of openness and understanding.

Question No. 136 answered with QuestionNo. 127.