The decentralisation of the headquarters of the Department of Education and Science to Mullingar is to go ahead, in spite of the announcement during Tuesday’s Budget that a number of decentralisation projects are to be put on the back burner.
There were fears that Mullingar might be among the projects shelved as part of this week’s Budget 2009; however, the new department headquarters is listed among the key projects that have been approved by the Government to proceed.
Seven department posts have already been moved to the Westmeath town, while a further 306 are to be located at the new premises.
Welcoming Tuesday’s announcement, Cllr Ken Glynn described the news as a great boost for Mullingar, and said that Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan had “made the right call”. “We are guaranteed 306 jobs for the town, and this shows the commitment of the Government to their promise to continue with decentralisation to Mullingar,“ he told the Advertiser.
“The move will benefit developers in the town, and will help people who are living locally and commuting to Dublin. I hope that they will have first priority for jobs. Mullingar is the county town, and this will greatly help the local economy in conjunction with the Central development and the new civic offices.”
Elsewhere in Westmeath, the movement of 17 posts to the existing Department of Education and Science in Athlone is to proceed as planned, bringing the total number of posts there to 105.
The Government review of the decentralisation programme was one of the talking points of Tuesday’s Budget. Priority projects were identified, which it was decided would proceed as planned. The completion of these projects, coupled with the progress already made, will bring 6,000 public service jobs to over 40 locations outside Dublin.
Decisions on the timing of further work on the remainder of the programme are being deferred pending a review in 2011 in light of budgetary developments. In total the movement of 5,140 jobs has been deferred, which include 64 positions as part of the planned decentralisation of the Higher Education Authority to Athlone.
A capital expenditure envelope of up to €72m in 2009 and €90m in 2010 is to be provided for the acquisition of the property in respect of the projects going ahead. The Decentralisation Implementation Group and the Department of Finance are to give priority to putting in place arrangements for finalising these projects.