Republican News · Thursday 26 October 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Ó Caolain raises decentralisation in Dáil

The issue of decentralisation was raised once again in the Dáil by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin last week. The Cavan/Monaghan TD questioned 26-County Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy, who revealed that a Cabinet Sub-Committee on Decentralisation has been established and is expected to make decisions by the end of 2000.

The Sinn Féin TD has previously raised in the Dáil and in direct representations to the Minister for Finance, the need for towns in Counties Monaghan and Cavan to top the list targeted for decentralised government departments and agencies. On 17 October, the TD questioned the Minister for Finance on whether a government sub-committee had been established. The Minister responded: ``The Government has established a Cabinet Sub-Committee on Decentralisation comprising of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government and myself. Before taking their decision in relation to the new programme of decentralisation, the Government will consider all relevant aspects. In this regard the submissions and representations will be considered, including those received from and on behalf of many small towns throughout the country... The consideration of these submissions, representations and enquiries will form part of the Government's deliberations. In addition, the Government has invited the views of the civil service management and the civil and public service staff unions, which will be conveyed to the Cabinet sub-committee. I am satisfied that the Government will be in a position to take decisions in relation to the new programme by the end of this year.''

In response, Ó Caoláin said: ``The Minister promised in his Budget speech on 1 December 1999 that the next round of decentralisation would be `more radical than those to date'. I welcome the fact that a Cabinet Sub-Committee has been formed but I regard it as unacceptable that almost a year has passed since the Minister's commitment was made and still no decisions have been taken.

``Public service staff unions have already expressed strong reservations about the scale of plans and this clearly needs to be the subject of detailed discussions and negotiations. Yet from the Minister's reply it seems that consultations are only at a preliminary stage.

``We need to see definite decisions being made and planning getting under way. I have pressed for the town of Monaghan in particular to be the location of a Department or other significant agency decentralised from Dublin. Other towns in Monaghan and Cavan should also be included. This measure is needed to help reverse decades of disadvantage in these border counties.

``I will continue to press the issue of decentralisation to ensure that we see real progress before the term of office of this government runs out.''

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