Labour TD for Westmeath/Longford, Deputy Willie Penrose, has raised the issue of the Government’s decision to close the District Veterinary Office (DVO ) in Mullingar with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, Brendan Smith.
On foot of a reply given by the Minister, Deputy Penrose is more convinced than ever that this decision should be reversed. It is proposed that the Mullingar DVO is to be vacated and all services will be provided for the counties of Westmeath and Offaly from a regional centre in Tullamore.
“On July 15, the Government approved a plan submitted by the Minister for Agriculture for a reorganisation of the Department’s local office network. This plan involves a reduction from 57 to 16 the number of offices from which the Department will operate district veterinary, forestry and agricultural environment support services in the future.
“The remaining 16 offices will become regional offices and will be resourced to provide the level of customer service required and will be supported by training for all relevant staff.”
The TD believes, given that the decisions were based on such criteria as geographical spread, standard of accommodation, staff availability, and demand for services that Mullingar is an ideal location for an office.
“Surely Mullingar, given that it is located right in the centre of the country, is a well-appointed venue, is owned by the OPW, and has good car parking facilities for the public to use, meets the criteria set by the Department? I am asking the Minister why one of the most successful offices has been overlooked for enhancement.
“The Mullingar DVO has been operating for about 53 years and has approximately 50 staff. It has been recognised as one of the most efficiently run offices in the country,” added Deputy Penrose.
“Indeed, I am given to understand that the office in Tullamore has currently no space available to accommodate any additional personnel who have to relocate from Mullingar. In fact if the move goes ahead, the Government will have to rent additional facilities to accommodate the staff.
“This demonstrates how illogical this proposal is and it should be reversed immediately, as there are clearly going to be no savings involved in this ill-conceived move.”