Agriculture Minister should reverse decision to close Local Office – BREEN

February 26th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Confirmation that the Local Department of Agriculture Office in the Kilrush Office is to close its doors to Clare Farmers on the 16th April next has prompted Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen appeal to the Minister for Agriculture and Food Brendan Smith to rethink this decision. Deputy Breen said that this policy of centralising vital rural services is having a detrimental impact on our rural communities with people being forced to travel longer distances to access basis services.

Deputy Breen claims that Clare will now be the only county in Munster without an agricultural office and that once again Clare is playing second fiddle to other counties.

“Providing a Lo Call Telephone Number in Limerick is no substitute for Clare Farmers who were able to call into the office on the Kilrush Road in Ennis to do their business, up to now. They have built up a good relationship with the staff and it is very convenient for them, especially on Mart Day when they are in town, they can go over and do what ever business they need to do, and have it all done on the one day. There is no replacement for the personal contact on a one to one basis when you have a query and farmers prefer this, they are simply not going to go on line to this business as has been suggested.”

“The Agricultural office provides a valuable and comprehensive service to Clare Farmers and now those farmers are expected to travel to the far side of Limerick, this is ridiculous and farmers could do with out this major inconvenience.”

“The policy of centralising vital services is having a big impact on our communities, whether it is closing down the local post office or the Garda Station and now the Dept of Agriculture Office, people are being forced to travel longer distances to access basic services and we do not even have public transport in many of these areas.”
“Clare will now be the only County in Munster without a Dept of Agriculture Office and we are tired of playing second fiddle to other Counties. I would appeal to the Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith, even at this the eleventh hour, to rethink this decision and not leave Clare Farmers in the lurch.”

Parliamentary Question No.467 – Reply 230210

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 1101 of the 16 September 2009, the position regarding the local agricultural office in Ennis, County Clare; if agreement has been finalised on the redeployment of staff;if he is proceeding with his plan to relocate the office; if so; the plans, he has to ensure the continuation of services and facilities for Clare farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 23rd February, 2010.

Ref No: 8783/10

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)

On 15th July, the Government approved my plan for a reorganisation of my Department’s Local Office Network. The plan involves reducing, from 57 to 16, the number of offices from which the Department will operate District Veterinary, Forestry and Agricultural Environment and Structures support services in the future. This will result in a reduction of some 400 in the number of staff working in my Department. This reorganisation will yield significant savings for the exchequer and no staff will be made redundant as a result of this rationalisation.
As part of this process, the Ennis Local Office will close on 16th April and all services will transfer to the regional office in Limerick. A ‘Lo-call’ telephone number will be provided for the Limerick office. My Department is currently finalising discussions with other Departments in relation to the redeployment of administrative staff currently working in Ennis local office.