Galway office costs Dept €1m/yr
It has emerged that the Department of Agriculture is paying nearly €1m a year to rent offices in Galway from a former Anglo Irish banker, despite Teagasc office space lying vacant in nearby Athenry.
The Department is tied into a lease to rent the 64,000ft2 office building at Dock Gate Street in Galway city until 2023. The annual rent of €922,250 is worth nearly €25m over the course of the lease to its owners, ex-bankers Tom Browne and John Hughes.
Mr Hughes was a senior executive in AIB and Mr Browne was head of Irish operations in Anglo Irish Bank but retired in 2007.
Seventy-three staff continue to work in the Galway office despite commitments made by the Department to move staff to offices at Teagasc Athenry.
A 13,000ftsq building has been lying idle in Athenry for nine months and is designed to accommodate up to 60 staff. It requires an estimated €250,000 of up-grading to make it ready for use – the equivalent of just three months rent for what the Department pays in Galway.
The Department was unable to confirm when it plans to move its staff, stating only that the matter was “under consideration”. One-third of the staff in question are administrative personnel, 33 are technical support staff and the balance is made up of vets and inspectors.
Any rental income from their offices in Athenry would be a welcome boost to Teagasc chief Professor Gerry Boyle, who has been forced to earmark nearly half of his organisation’s advisory offices for closure and slash Teagasc’s spending budgets by €15m over the last three years.