Dáil Éireann - Volume 514 - 17 February, 2000

Other Questions. - Decentralisation Programme.

[1130] 6. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Defence the plans, if any, he has for decentralisation of some or all sections of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4497/00]

Mr. M. Smith: The Deputy will be aware that the finance branch of my Department was decentralised to Galway in 1989. I now propose, in the context of the White Paper on Defence, to decentralise the Civil Defence branch of my Department to Roscrea, County Tipperary. I also propose to decentralise elements of Defence Forces headquarters to Clonmel, County Tipperary.

Mr. Timmins: As regards the Defence Forces training headquarters, does the Minister agree that most of the training administration is done in the Curragh and most of the physical training is done in the Glen of Imaal in Wicklow? Would it be more appropriate to move this branch to that area rather than to Clonmel? I have no difficulty with the Minister moving a section to Clonmel. However, the people who comprise the training branch are transient people. If 30 or 40 people are moved to Clonmel they will not necessarily relocate to Clonmel but will commute long distances. The majority of the people who work in the training section live in the Kildare and Dublin areas. It might be more suitable to relocate them to the Curragh or Newbridge rather than Clonmel. While it is not too bad to move the Civil Defence to Roscrea, it would be better to move the military staff elsewhere.

Mr. M. Smith: I reject the Deputy's comment that moving the Civil Defence to Roscrea is not too bad. It is one of the nicest places one could visit, as is Clonmel. We are talking about the directorate which is not necessarily required to be in the Glen of Imaal or the Curragh on a regular basis. Clonmel is centrally located nationally. If we accepted Deputy Timmins's suggestion, the west, south-west and midlands would not qualify for what we hope they will get in time. He is lucky to live in the circle of the pale close to stadia, hospitals, theatres and big facilities. Clonmel and Roscrea are a long way away and we are looking for a chip of the Celtic tiger.

Mr. Wall: Is this the final element of decentralisation or will the Minister move other sections of his Department to the Curragh? I always thought Athlone was in the centre of Ireland but it seems to have moved to Clonmel.

Mr. M. Smith: I am not sure how good Deputy Wall was as a geography student but if he wants an ideal rest, he should travel to Slievenamon. It is not the centre of Ireland, but neither is Athlone.

[1131] Mr. Belton: Kilkenny west is the centre of Ireland.

Mr. M. Smith: The centre of Ireland is where one makes it. This decision was taken in conjunction with the Chief of Staff. There are not any other plans at present but the major decentralisation plan has not yet come before the Government.