Decentralisation in disarray with just 20% of posts filled

THE Government’s decentralisation plans are set to experience more delays as figures show a mere one in five civil and public service jobs due to be relocated have been filled to date.

A confidential briefing document issued to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan last month revealed that the Decentralisation Implementation Group established by the Government recently indicated that “there are likely to be some slippages in the timeframes” for implementing decentralisation.

In September 2006 the Government was forced to revise its deadlines for the transfer of jobs from Dublin to 60 cities and towns across the country after it became clear that most were likely to experience delays in filling positions.

Only 14 out of the 60 locations for new government offices have so far seen more than 50% of the planned jobs transferred there.

Mr Lenihan also admitted that plans are not well advanced in 22 locations. They include Arklow, Drogheda, Dungarvan, Edenderry, Kildare, Macroom, Mitchelstown and Newbridge.

The cost of decentralisation to date is 1.27 billion compared with the original 2004 estimate of €900m.

Figures released by the Department of Finance show just 2,201 staff out of a total of 10,793 earmarked for relocation had moved by the end of May — a little more than 20% of the total positions due to be relocated. Only 36% of jobs have been relocated in 21 centres first identified by the Government as “early-mover” locations where most positions were meant to be filled by last spring.

However, Office of Public Works minister Martin Mansergh said yesterday that the Government remained committed to the implementation of the decentralisation programme. He pointed out that the process remained voluntary for existing civil and public servants but not new recruits.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question last week, Mr Lenihan said 11,000 civil and public servants have applied to relocate under the programme.

Mr Lenihan said 34 out of the 60 towns and cities targeted for decentralisation now have some presence of relocated Government staff. But he admitted that the majority of positions in Dublin due to be relocated have not yet been moved.


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