Dáil Éireann - Volume 666 - 05 November, 2008

Written Answers. - Decentralisation Programme.

Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the decentralisation of the Equality Authority is being fast-tracked at a time when relocation has been halted in respect of most projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38614/08]

Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way decentralisation of the Equality Authority will save money in view of the fact that no Equality Authority staff members have applied to be transferred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38616/08]

Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way he will integrate the corporate services of the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission if one body is to be decentralised to Roscrea and the other is to remain in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38617/08]

  Deputy Dermot Ahern: I propose to take Questions Nos. 248, 250 and 251 together.

There are already fifteen staff in rented accommodation in Roscrea. The Deputy will be aware that the decentralisation of the Equality Authority to Roscrea was announced by the then Minister for Finance in December 2003. Arising out of the most recent Budget statement from the Minister for Finance on 14 October this year, the review of the decentralisation programme identified a number of projects which were to continue to be progressed at this time, on the basis that those cases were already advanced.

In that context it was decided that an additional fifteen posts from the Equality Authority would transfer to Roscrea to join fifteen staff members already working there bringing the numbers serving there up to thirty. In addition, a number of my Department’s other decentralisation projects will move ahead in the immediate future. These include the transfer of 186 INIS posts to Tipperary Town and 150 to Roscommon from the Property Regulatory Authority. It is also intended to facilitate the transfer of additional staff from the Equality Tribunal to Portlaoise. All this will result in the transfer out of Dublin of over eight hundred posts which is almost ninety per cent of my Department’s overall target numbers.

It is not true to state that no staff have applied to be transferred to the Authority’s office in Roscrea. Of the fifteen posts now due to transfer to Roscrea, around half of these posts will be filled by existing staff members, who are currently serving in the Authority and who have been appointed or promoted on the basis that they will work in Roscrea. The remaining posts will be sourced in the normal way from the Central Applications Facility.

Decentralisation to Roscrea will inevitably lead to a savings of significant resources for the tax payer particularly in the context of reduced rent costs when compared to the cost of renting expensive city centre accommodation in Dublin. I am sure that the Deputy will agree that the continued success of my Department’s decentralisation programme will benefit all those concerned, including local organisations and individuals, towns and communities and in particular those people who are anxious to live and work in counties Laois, Tipperary and South Offaly.

[232] In relation to the matter of integrating administrative and back office facilities between the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission, my Department is currently examining the issues which need to be addressed in order to achieve these efficiencies. These areas are likely to include shared IT and telecommunications facilities as well as office accommodation which is being addressed in the context of the decentralisation to Roscrea of the remaining elements of the Authority. I also understand that the two organisations themselves have already had initial discussions in order to move matters forward.