Department rental costs top €4m/year
Over €4m a year is being paid out in rent on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, the Farming Independent has confirmed.
Figures from the Office of Public Works show that the Department is renting more than 200,000sqft of office space in 46 different locations across the country.
This is despite long promised cuts to the extent of the Department's office network first flagged in July last year.
Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith promised at the time to reduce the number of local offices from 57 to 16 'enhanced' regional offices, and part of this plan was to move the 67 staff currently based in rented offices in Galway city centre to vacant offices in Athenry.
The buildings at Athenry have been vacant for seven months despite Department assurances that it is "making significant progress in implementing a comprehensive reconfiguration of the Department's local office structure".
Rents paid on behalf of the Department vary hugely from as little as €68/m2 in Thurles, Co Tipperary, to nearly €500/m2 in St Stephen's Green in Dublin city centre (see table).
In addition to the rationalisation of local offices, the Department claims it is reducing its working staff by 400 in these offices.
It says that this will bring annual savings of €30m to its running costs. There are already 1,200 fewer full-time staff employed in the Department compared to five years ago.