Sligo Fianna Fail TD Marc Mac Sharry has launched a scathing attack on the Government following his discovery that Minister Leo Varadkar, the would be successor to Enda Kenny as Fine Gael leader and possible Taoiseach, is set to reverse aspects of the successful decentralisation programme of his department first started in 1988.It seems the Department Of Social Protection Information Service, currently based in Sligo, is to be almost entirely recentralised back to Dublin to boost Varadkar’s formidable PR machine as the FG leadership contest looms larger on the horizon.
Located in Sligo for more than a decade this section of the department is responsible for a variety of communications related tasks including customer complaints, responsibility for welfare.ie the departments much used web site, advertising, translation services and the DSP advertising budget.The Department has confirmed that 32 positions will be moved to Dublin as part of a reallocation of roles.
The posts are to be returned to Dublin having been located in Sligo for more than a decade.
Deputy Mac Sharry has described the move as 'appalling and an outrage'
Deputy Mac Sharry said, "this is an outrage. It represents a major policy shift and retrograde step following 30 years of consecutive Government focus on decentralising departments throughout the regions initially to cut costs but more particularly to spread the business of Government throughout the nation and take advantage of the talent pool available throughout the Country.
"Fianna Fail in Government through Ray Mac Sharry in the 1980s and Charlie Mc Creevy in 2004 made the decision to introduce a policy of decentralisation of Government Departments which has been hugely successful especially in Sligo and the North West. Staff have been informed that 32 posts will be re-centralised back to Dublin. This will create 32 new vacancies in Dublin with increased promotional prospects for staff based there while those in Sligo will face uncertain redeployment to current and future vacancies in the broader DSP infrastructure in the North West”Appalling Step
The Sligo based TD continued, “This is an appalling step by Government and particularly Minister Varadkar who has a growing reputation as someone who sees regional Ireland as little more than the weekend retreat for city dwellers. A fact that may well be significant when his party sit down to consider when choosing their next leader.
"Leadership of his party is no concern of mine however should he become Taoiseach his clear and blatant discrimination of the regions and the partial reversal of the successful decentralisation programme of the past 30 years is a matter of grave concern to all. No Government is without blame when it comes to failure to equip regional Ireland to perform to its potential but Minister Varadkar and his Government colleagues are unsurpassed in their ability to conjure a weekly parade of weekly photo ops and empty announcements personified by the lack of tangible supports for the regions”Mac Sharry poses the legitimate question “is this the thin end of the wedge?”
"The Governments action in commencing the recentralisation of jobs to Dublin is an utter disgrace”. It discriminates against the people of this region and compounds the endemic theme of regional neglect which has become a hall mark of Fine Gael in Government since 2011.
Deputy Mac Sharry is expected to raise the matter in the Dail this week. Reorganising
The Department states that as part of its ongoing review of structures and functions, 'it is reorganising its communications and customer service area with some roles moving to Dublin. Any affected staff employed in the Information Section in Sligo will be assigned to roles in other Department functions in Sligo.
'At this stage no decisions have been reached on the best configuration of roles or the location of same.
'This internal reorganisation needs to be seen in the context of ongoing normal business adjustments and ongoing changes in staffing across the Department. The Department has 65% of its staff based outside Dublin and so any reorganisation will generally affect different locations. The Department currently employs 656 people in Sligo and this is an increase of 29 on 2015', concluded the statement.