Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 09 November, 2004

Written Answers. - Decentralisation Programme.

  228. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress being made with plans for decentralisation to Thomastown, County Kilkenny; if he has identified suitable properties at both locations; if he is close to selecting the property solution; and the locations of same. [28089/04]

  Mr. Martin: The Health and Safety Authority is actively working to implement the Government decision on the decentralisation of its offices to Thomastown, County Kilkenny. An implementation team has been set up which reports directly to the chief executive and progress is reported to the board of the authority on a regular basis. In addition, the interests of the authority are represented on my Department’s main decentralisation implementation committee and senior representatives from the authority participate in a decentralisation implementation sub-group on decentralisation of agencies of the Department.

A detailed implementation plan has been prepared in consultation with the key stakeholders and submitted to the Flynn working group. The plan sets out the challenges, opportunities and issues arising for the authority and its staff from the decentralisation programme, along with proposed models for continuity of service. Proposals are being formulated for optimal delivery of compliance and enforcement services by the authority. In addition, discussions have commenced with the staff unions through the authority’s industrial relations council.

[217] To date, 11 of the authority’s staff have applied to transfer to Thomastown. This figure represents 10% of the total figure of 110 staff required. However, when the total number of applications received from both within the agency and within the Civil Service and public service is considered, it climbs to 46% of the 110 staff required by the agency. Further analysis of expressions of interest from the central applications facility will be required in order to determine the grades and “fit”, in terms of competencies and so on, of the external applications.

The Office of Public Works has identified a number of potentially suitable sites in Thomastown and the detailed evaluation process is at an advanced stage. It is expected that the acquisition negotiations phase for Thomastown will commence shortly.