Greater consultation needed for decentralisation
Commenting on the Flynn report on decentralisation implementation today, Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan said: "This report vindicates Sinn Féin's criticism of the ill-planned and opportunistic manner in which the Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy and his colleagues have approached decentralisation. There was clearly no real consultation and no research to inform the decision-making process in terms of the numbers to be relocated and the chosen locations. This undermines the claim that this scheme is entirely voluntary and has led to justified concerns on the part of public servants and their families about their future career paths and quality of life.
"This Government had ample time to implement decentralisation in a coherent manner, maximising the undoubted benefits for public servants, for host communities and for our overcrowded capital city. Minister McCreevy signalled in his Budget speech in 1999 that he intended the biggest decentralisation scheme yet attempted. Yet nothing was done between '99 and 2003. Real research and real consultation would have come up with a realistic figure and a realistic time-scale for delivery.
"Instead, what did we get? We got a rabbit out of the hat in Budget 2004 with the figure of 10,300 posts seemingly plucked from thin air.
"The government chose to launch their plan as a pre-election initiative - first for the local and EU elections and then for the next General Election. The roll-out of the plan is timed for completion by the end of 2006, just months before the assumed date of the next General Election. This is not just an Opposition accusation. The Minister himself stated last March:
"The prospect of a hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully and I have made no secret of the reason why I set out a December 2006 deadline for decentralization."
"Sinn Féin supports much greater consultation with stakeholders, including staff and their unions and the prospective host communities. We believe the central aim should be to ensure that the maximum possible decentralisation is achieved consistent with the efficiency of State services, the rights of public and civil servants and the needs of the regions."ENDS