Ballybay Dvo Storm: Coyle Insists Onus Is On F.G. – But Minister Tells Deputy Conlan Smith “Agreed” To Closure Last July!

1 April 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By PATSY McARDLE

THE storm which erupted last week with meetings of public representatives, including a heated debate at a meeting of Monaghan Country Council and a meeting of local Oireachtas members and councillors over the proposed termination of the existing role of the Department of Agriculture District Veterinary Office in Ballybay, continued to rage this week, with further calls to veto the shut-down, and a plea by Fianna Fail councillor Seamus Coyle to all the Cavan/Monaghan Fine Gael Oireachtas members, to exert political pressure on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney T.D., to halt the proposed closure.
 Cllr. Coyle, who was unavoidably absent from last week’s County Council meeting, said it was now up to Fine Gael to ensure the full range of existing District Veterinary Office services are retained in Ballybay.
 “We cannot allow the District Veterinary Service to be reduced in the region in view of our proximity to the North, where there is such a high level of bovine TB and brucellosis—it would be an outrageous move,” he said in a strongly-worded statement.
“Responsibility, ” he insisted, “for the future of the Ballybay District Veterinary Office now clearly rests with Fine Gael, and with the Minister Coveney”.
  However, it emerged this week that newly elected Fine Gael TD, Sean Conlan, who raised the issue regarding the future of the Ballybay office, in a strong performance in the Dail, last week, was told by Minister Coveney that the Minister’s predecessor in the previous government, Deputy Brendan Smith, had “agreed to a rationalisation programme on July 15th last, which meant the scale-down of services at Ballybay”.
 Deputy Conlan said yesterday : “The latest disclosures by the Minister, and his Department finally, and fully, clearly exposes the fact that the former Minister had already determined the closure of the Ballybay office, despite the previous hypocritical claims made by Fianna Fail, to the contrary”.
 Speaking in the Dail, Deputy Conlan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to disclose when the decision was actually made to close the Department’s DVO office in Ballybay, and he also asked the Minister if he would now examine and review this decision, and make a statement on the matter.
 In reply, Minister Coveney said the Local Office Reorganisation Plan was announced by the previous Government on 15 July 2009.
 He continued : “Under the Plan, 58 local offices are to be reduced in number to 16 enhanced regional offices, to improve delivery of my Department’s services by widening services to include District Veterinary, Forestry and Agricultural Environment and Structures support services at all regional offices, thereby concentrating resources and professional expertise with greater effect and more efficiently”
 “Since this announcement of the plan on 15 July 2009 my Department has been implementing the rationalisation in a phased basis.”
 “The final phase, phase 4 of 4, which includes the DVO based at Ballybay, is to be implemented within the next two months which will see the closure of the public offices in Ballybay.    
 However, the Ballybay office will remain in operation dealing with non DVO related business.”
 Earlier, in a separate debate, Deputy Conlan addressed the Dail on the Ballybay issue and had called for a Ministerial response
 He said that on Tuesday, 15 March, it came to his attention that, under the local office reorganisation plan, the Departmental offices at Ballybay, Birr, Monaghan town, Mullingar and Portlaoise were to close from 20 May 2011.
 He said he understood that regional offices were to be established within the next two months in Cavan town, Naas and Tullamore, and in the meantime, the personnel division, along with the local office line managers, will make arrangements to visit the local office.
Full story in The Northern Standard

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