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O’Neill announces former military site as the location for new Departmental HQ

3 September, 2012 - by Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today announced that the former military site at Ballykelly will be the location for the new DARD headquarters.

The Minister said: “The Relocation Programme is an important first step to relocate a significant share of public sector jobs to rural areas as recommended by George Bain in his 2008 report into the location of public sector jobs across the north. To relocate my Department’s HQ to a rural area is a key target in the Executive’s Programme for Government 2011-15 and I am therefore pleased to be able the announce this significant step towards achieving this target.”

The move is expected to involve approximately 800 staff, and work will commence on the site as early as possible in 2013/14 with the new HQ ready for occupation during 2015.

The Minister continued: “The relocation of the DARD HQ will stimulate the local economy through increased local spending, provision of high quality and well paid public sector jobs and potentially jobs associated with the construction and ongoing servicing of the new HQ.

“The relocation will also help to share wealth across the wider economy and contribute to better-balanced economic growth, by starting to address disparities in the distribution of public sector jobs in the north of Ireland.”

The Minister highlighted that this will ensure that this former military site, which is now owned by the Executive, will be put to good use and will bring benefits for the local economy.

Referring to how the move would affect current staff the Minister added: “This announcement provides clarity and the time necessary to ensure that any potential moves can be managed carefully and sensitively taking account of business need and the needs of individuals, although this may not always be possible.”

In conclusion the Minister said: “This is a good news announcement for the rural economy, especially the north west. It is a unique opportunity to relocate high quality public sector jobs outside of Belfast which over the years will bring a range of related economic and social benefits.”

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