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Sinn Féin senator calls for debate on VEC amalgamations

11 October, 2011

Sinn Féin senator Kathryn Reilly has called for a Seanad debate with the Minister for Education and Skills on the amalgamations of VECs. Senator Reilly said that it is important to have a transparent debate on the process of how the location of the headquarters was decided upon and that it is necessary to examine how the decision fed into the comprehensive spending review.

Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Reilly said:

“What criteria were used in deciding on the location of the VEC headquarters? Were the criteria set up retrospectively after the decision was taken? It is important that we have transparency in how these decisions are being made.

“As part of this important debate it is also critical that we discuss how the VEC amalgamations and headquarter decisions that have fed into comprehensive spending review? What savings are to be made? If new structures need to be set up to replace those that exist already, like in the Cavan/Monaghan amalgamation, what are the real savings?

“I condemn how the decision on VEC headquarters was communicated to staff in the VECs across the state. It is unacceptable that changes in their circumstances were not communicated beforehand to the staff and instead they had to find out when the announcement went live on the Department’s website.”

Speaking later on Senator Reilly said:

“Even the leader of the Seanad, a member of the Government party, communicated his reservations about the process in terms of the VEC amalgamations and surrounding the decision on VEC headquarters. This highlights huge deficiencies in the process and the urgent need for the Minister to come to the House to address it.

“In the absence of transparency and openness, there is no way that the process can be allowed to proceed. There are serious outstanding issues surrounding the issues of criteria and costs and these need to be addressed before the drafting of any enabling legislation. I will continue to press for the Minister to come forward for a debate at every opportunity.” ENDS

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