'Temporary' offices cost State €750,000
THE State has spent €750,000 on renting "temporary" offices for government staff decentralised to Sligo -- after a plan to build them a headquarters in Mayo fell through.
The Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs moved 85 staff to Tubercurry in Sligo six years ago with the aim of relocating them as quickly as possible.
But they are still there in two offices which are costing €125,000 annually to rent. It also cost another €260,000 to renovate the offices and fit them with computers, phones and other IT equipment.
The Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard yesterday that a site had been bought for new offices near Knock airport at a cost of €390,000 but could not be used after planning permission for offices was overturned.
It means the department still has 160 staff in in Dublin, as well as 85 in Tubercurry and 60 in na Forbacha, Galway.
PAC chairman Bernard Allen of Fine Gael said it all seemed "a bit of a mess".
The department's secretary general Seosamh O hAghmaill admitted it was "challenging" for his staff, who had to sometimes travel around the country to attend meetings.
"We do use a lot of videoconferencing," he said.
The committee also heard the private company funded by the department to distribute grants had made 100 of its 280 staff redundant as part of a cost-cutting plan.