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Decentralisation plans ham-fisted delcares Ó Caoláin

21 January, 2004

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin today slammed Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy's recent introduction of decentralisation plans as being 'ham-fisted' when he addressed the debate on the Public Service Management Bill.

Deputy O‚Caolain said: „Since Minister McCreevy used his Budget speech to make the decentralisation announcement the proposed programme has been slowly unravelling. A previously agreed Teagasc decentralisation plan was postponed, we were told, because it had been superseded by the Government‚s new plans. The real reason became apparent when it was learned that Teagasc staff had reached a preliminary agreement with the Department of Finance and the Department of Agriculture for an average once-off payment of €6,000 for those who opted to relocate from Dublin.

"It seems to be the intention of Government to renege on this agreement and stop the Teagasc decentralisation lest the payment lead to knock-on claims from other decentralised civil servants. The unions are justifiably angry at this development and have pointed out that the agreement was self-financing from a restructuring plan. In addition, a survey in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment showed that only 69 of 503 respondents were interested in taking up any of the 250 positions to be relocated to Carlow.

"All of this adds up to a right mess solely of the Government‚s own making. It has cast doubt over a decentralisation programme which should be beneficial to both civil servants and to their new host communities. Having promised this for years the government has now brought it forward in a ham-fisted way with an eye not to the best possible delivery but to the local elections in June." ENDS

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