Concerns were raised in Mallow yesterday after the chairman and a board member of Fáilte Ireland admitted a number of staff were reluctant to move from their Dublin headquarters to the north Cork town.
The Government announced in 2003 that Mallow was to acquire decentralised offices. However it gave no time frame for the move.
Fáilte Ireland chairwoman Gillian Bowler admitted she was getting “mixed responses” from staff.
“People are dependent on dual incomes. These are the type of issues,” Ms Bowler said.
John McDonald, a member of her board, said difficulties existed because staff based in Dublin “were of mature years.” In most cases, both spouses were working in the capital, so this presented further relocation problems.
He said a recent survey had shown that 70 civil servants in Government departments had shown an interest in moving to Mallow. But he admitted there were “particular difficulties in Fáilte Ireland which have to be overcome.”
Ms Bowler, who founded Budget Travel in 1975, made her comments after addressing business leaders in Mallow about general tourism trends.
Mr McDonnell, a former general secretary of SIPTU, said the proposed move was a political decision.
He said he knew Ms Bowler was an avid supporter of decentralisation and Mallow was an ideal venue for such a project, as it had good amenities and infrastructure.
Despite the difficulties, he said he still hoped decentralising Fáilte Ireland would happen.
Ms Bowler said she had been looking at suitable sites in the town with OPW (Office of Public Works) officials.
“We are happy with what we have seen,” she said.
The Fáilte Ireland chairman said she couldn’t, as yet, give a timetable for any move.
“I hope it will happen within 10 years, but I can’t say exactly when. Over the next 18 months, it should become a lot clearer,” Ms Bowler said.
Local county councillor Noel O’Connor said he was very concerned at the news. “From what I have heard, I’m not very confident now, but we must still keep lobbying.”
He said he acknowledged it was going to be harder to tempt employees of semi-State companies to move out of the capital.
“I suppose the key factor is we’re 140 miles from Dublin and that doesn’t help,” Cllr O’Connor said.