20 May 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

– Bannigan reacts to farm office closure
“The decision of the Dept of Agriculture to proceed with their plans to close the Ballybay farm office to members of the public from Friday next is a sad day for Ballybay Town and the 6,000 farmers from Co Monaghan who use it on a regular basis,” according to Mid Monaghan Co Councillor Owen Bannigan.
In a statement yesterday, Colr Bannigan said he had first announced in May 2009 that the Ballybay office was to close under rationalisation plans drawn up by the then Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith.
“The decision to close the Ballybay office was taken at a Cabinet meeting in July 2009,” Colr Bannigan stated.
“For two years this has been denied by Brendan Smith TD and the Fianna Fáil councillors in Co Monaghan. It is a great pity that a concerted effort was not made at that time to retain the Ballybay office.”
The Fine Gael public representative also expressed disappointment at the outcome of the review of the decision promised by the new Agriculture Minister Simon Covney.
“The facts are that no changes have been made to the original decision and 6,000 farmers and Ballybay Town are left to suffer.
“The farmers of Co Monaghan want a local office that is open to the public and where their queries are dealt with in a efficient manner with the co-operation and assistance of the staff. This service was available in Ballybay and the staff where a credit in the way they assisted farmers.
“Ballybay Town needs a public office where farmers can carry out their business. The fact that the public office is to close will have a devastating effect on the town of Ballybay
“The staff in Ballybay want to continue to provide a public service to the farmers of Co Monaghan from the Ballybay office.
Colr Bannigan also called into question the manner in which rationalisation of services at Dept Level is carried out.
“There is no joined up thinking between Government bodies. There is a social element to all rationalisation decisions, and no body is looking at the consequence for towns and counties that suffer as a result of the removal of services
“Co Monaghan has lost out in health and hospital services which are located in Cavan. The weather station has gone to Cavan. The agriculture services are going to Cavan.
“Why should Co Cavan always be the preferred location of the headquarters of amalgamated Government services. This is totally wrong. Monaghan is suffering more than any other county in the country.
“The social impact on Monaghan will be immense and the ability of Co Monaghan to develop and grow into the future will be severely damaged as a result of these decisions. The effects of these decisions will be felt by future generations.
“The political system is failing Co Monaghan and this must change. The people of Monaghan have had enough and we now must fight back to ensure that this never happens our county again.”

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