Saturday 17 March 2018

Fianna Fail's €32m 'dream' lies in tatters


Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Government is stuck with €32m worth of land bought at the height of the property boom for decentralisation projects that are being scrapped.

The Coalition is ending the decentralisation dream of 40 locations across the country and another 20 face a nervous wait to find out their fate.

Some 30 locations that already have decentralised bases will retain the jobs in their area. But the final death knell for former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy's pre-local election stunt was rung yesterday. Of the more than 10,000 public servants to be moved under the decentralisation plan when it was announced eight years ago, around half were never relocated.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said decentralisation was "ill-judged and badly planned" by the last government.

"The Government has to demonstrate that it is not oblivious to the new economic reality that faces the country. Today we are drawing a line under the decentralisation programme -- one of the most ill-judged and badly planned ideas of the last government -- once and for all." Mr Kenny said projects where no progress has been made at all will be cancelled. Locations where permanent accommodation was provided and where the majority of staff are already in place will be left there. And a review of projects where temporary accommodation has been provided or those with significant staffing shortfall will be conducted.

The Government had bought sites for five of the decentralisation locations cancelled in the announcement:

•2.1 acres in Drogheda for €12.4m.

•Three acres in Dungarvan for €2.1m.

•2.1 acres in Edenderry for €1.5m.

•5.3 acres in Mullingar for €8.25m.

•Three acres in Waterford city for €8m.

The sites are now worth far less than the Government paid for them at the time.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath rejected suggestions that the Government's plans were a damning verdict on Mr McCreevy's 'dream'.

"In truth, the majority of the programme was completed, over 52 projects have been completed. The big announcement here is something that wasn't costing anything is now not going to happen," he said.

Irish Independent

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