• It has come to our attention that some users may have been "banned" when they tried to change their passwords after the site was hacked due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software. This would have occurred around the end of February and does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you believe you were affected by this, please contact a staff member or use the Contact us link at the bottom of any forum page.

Decentralisation


Dinarius

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2004
Messages
37
Is Decentralisation about to become one of the hottest political potatoes of the next twelve months?

I think it is and I am suprised that there is no thread devoted to it exclusively - apologies in advance if I am wrong on this.

A few points to consider:

A recent poll was taken within the Department of Finance which has approximately 400 staff, and is earmarked for transfer to Tullamore. A total of nine people said that they would move to Tullamore.

The Trade Unions (whom many Civil Servants believe to be largely responsible for this potential nightmare) estimate that no more than 20% will move willingly. From where I am standing this is hugely wide of the mark. I would estimate 5% tops. And that figure will be made up of "indians" who are happy to get out of Dublin and return to their roots (and a cheaper 3 bed semi), and a handful of "chiefs" who have ambitions to be Assistant Secretarys and Department Secretarys one day, and are willing to move....and move again, in order to secure those promotions.

There are approximately 150,000 civil servants with about the same number of spouses/partners and associated family members/friends. Let's say 300,000 to 500,000. That adds up to a lot of anti-government votes come the next election.

Limerick University's Ed Walsh was interviewed on RTE's Five Seven Live last evening. His main points were that there is no successful precedent for this. We need more joined up government, NOT less. Policy and policy making need to be centralized and concentrated not diluted.

This is a victory for perceived local political gain over national interest. In other words, the continued success of Ireland Inc. is being sacrificed to parish pump politics.

There is no doubt that the goverment parties believe that decentralisation will win the votes of the local publican, shopkeeper, butcher and builder and that this will outweigh any negatives associated with revolting civil servants or damage to Ireland political and administrative infrastructure.

Have the locals in those fifty-odd centres considered the effect that this will have on their economies? Only those "fumbling in the greasy till". Take Clonakilty, which is earmared for Fisheries. Ninety people will be employed there. Think of the effect that ninety, rock solid, salaries will have on local property prices. It, and many towns like it, will become mini-Galways. The children of locals will find it more difficult to buy locally. Will the local school/hospital in Clonakilty be able to cope with ninety additional people and their families?

In an era when most couples double job, what will the non-civil servant spouse/partner do? Has this been considered? Of course it hasn't!

The government is, by some margin, the largest tenant in Dublin. I understand that the Office of Public works has already begun to put on the market some of its office space. I predict that, if decentralisation is carried through in full, the effect on the Dublin property market will be devastating.

Worst of all, from a civil servants point of view, is the prospect of working in the same area for the rest of your working life - as in Fisheries in Clonakilty, or Finance in Tullamore. One of the reasons the CS remains vital and alive is that those with brains and ambition can expect to be presented with new challenges every couple of years. This will atrophy under current proposals - unless one is willing to buy and sell houses every couple years and move one's family. Crazy!

All in all this is a repeat of the Electronic Voting fiasco. It seemed like a no-brainer from a parish pump viewpoint. But, it hasn't been thought through at all. Only when the relevant ministers wake up and smell the coffee - and listen to what heavy hitters like Ed Walsh are saying - will they drop the idea, or, at the very least, massively downscale it.

This is, potentially, one of the biggest mistakes any government has ever made. It is incredible that the opposition have not made it a local election issue. Probably because the locals only see it as a cash cow. How wrong they could be!

I understand that a building has already been leased in Clonakilty for Fisheries. If this is the case all over the country, and if the scheme collapses under the weight of CS lack of interest, then the bill for this fiasco will make the Electronic Voting €52m look like peanuts. Our ability to squander more and more money knows no bounds.

Last week all civil servants received notification of the commencement of the decentralisation process. They have been given eight weeks during which to express their preferred location(s), if any. If they make no submission by July 8, it will be assumed that they do not wish to decentralise. My prediction is that the rejection of this plan will be so overwhelming that it will be abandoned soon afterwards.

There is a Jeannie Johnston born every week.

D.





[Edited on 18/5/2004 by Dinarius]

[Edited on 18/5/2004 by Dinarius]

[Edited on 3/6/2004 by Dinarius]
 

Dinarius

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2004
Messages
37
DECENTRALISATION

Heard an employee of BIM on LiveLine this afternoon.

BIM is earmarked for transfer to Clonakilty.

This guy has worked for BIM for 31 years.

He has teenage children in college.

His wife has a career of her own - not Civil or Public Service.

He feels that he is being forced to choose between his family or his career.

He said that moral in BIM is at an all time low.

The "vast majority" of BIM employees do not want to move.

He has to apply for his job in Clonakilty! - Though he did add that if he did, he would probably get it. He has no idea what will happen if he doesn't express a wish to move to Clonakilty.

Because he is a public and not a civil servant, there is no possibility of transfer to another department. It's fish or nothing!

As Frank McDonald (Irish Times) said on the radio the other evening, this is the kind of thing that tin pot African dictators do when they get angry with their capital cities.

Or, like Stalinist collective farming, the state workers are being forced into the countryside to feed the masses.

I predict that this madness will be largely forgotten by the end of the year - sooner if FF get slaughtered in the local elections, though the smoke screen of the citizenship referendum which is starving the Euro and Local elections of any debate is working in the Government's favour.

D.
 

crosswind

Active member
Joined
Oct 15, 2003
Messages
160
DECENTRALISATION

I have to admit to merely skimming what's above, but here's my two cents. Decentralisation was talked about today in the indo, McCreevy made a speech last night attacking those who were 'opposed' to decentralisation. He attacked opposition parties for sowing the seeds of doubt to the proposals and said the Opposition were trying to have it both ways, supporting it locally and supposedly opposing it nationally. Suddenly you are opposed to something if you raise concerns.
It was the civil servants themselves that first raised concerns about the viability of the plan, especially the higher civil servants. Maybe if McCreevy had actually consulted them before announcing the plan he could have nipped any teething problems in the bud.
What seems to be happening is that the opposition are being angled up for the blame if the plan doesn't go ahead in full. If the plan for decentralisation was on schedule all the government would have to do is outline what is going on and show that the oppositions concerns are misplaced.
 

Dinarius

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2004
Messages
37
DECENTRALISATION

Richard Bruton was on Morning Ireland this morning arguing pretty much exactly what you say above.

I think that the opposition has finally woken up to the fact that this is going down like a lead balloon amongst those in the Civil Service and that there is much political capital to be gained from it.

Yesterday, on Live Line, a couple of people said that on the doorstep both FF and PD candidates and canvassers are saying that it will never go ahead. Hilarious!

I think they'll have no problem filling the satellite/dormitory towns around Dublin. People are already living in them anyway, or they'd be happy to, or they'd like to commute to them against the traffic every day.

But, the likes of moving the NRA to Ballinasloe when no one wants to go, or Fisheries to Clonakilty will be abandoned.

The reason that Revenue in Limerick and Statistics in Cork have worked is that they are largely made up of pen pushers who were happy to get back to where they had come from. But, real policy and decision making remained in Dublin. That is the real maddness in all of this - the fragmentation of core decision making.

D
 

Marko

New member
Joined
Apr 25, 2004
Messages
1
DECENTRALISATION

I have to agree with you Dinarius, this is an issue that causes me great concern. How can such a policy that effects so many people be undertaken without any cost benefit analysis? It's absolute madness.

What comparisons have been made with other countries, I know of two possible examples Brazil where they moved everything to Brazila and Germany where they have moved half from Bonn to Berlin. I believe the Brazil example was quite successful but the German one is proving very costly(we know this because the measure such things there), even though both centres in Germany have spent vast sums of money on providing staff with the highest quality communication software there is still a need for face to face meetings and these are proving time consuming and costly even though both Berlin and Bonn have an airport.

Contrast this with the Irish proposal of spreading departments the length and breadth of the country, no apparent plans to provide the high quality communications that the German workers were provided with and no cost benefit analysis. This is surly going to be more costly then the e-voting fiasco, not alone in money but in lost working hours also. You got to ask who is gaining, and it only seems to be developers both in Dublin and in the regions, the FF friends again.
 

Dubliner

Active member
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
128
DECENTRALISATION

What the Minister for Finance did not say when claiming Limerick as a success is that many people in that office are desperate to leave it and have applied for decentralisation......
 

Dinarius

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2004
Messages
37
DECENTRALISATION

"What the Minister for Finance did not say when claiming Limerick as a success is that many people in that office are desperate to leave it and have applied for decentralisation..."

Ditto those in the Statistics office in Cork. Many of them also want out.

Take comfort in the fact that there is no party more capable of making a volte face, particularly after an election, than Fianna Fail. ;-)

D.
 

crosswind

Active member
Joined
Oct 15, 2003
Messages
160
DECENTRALISATION

Take comfort in the fact that there is no party more capable of making a volte face, particularly after an election, than Fianna Fail. ;-)
They would have to do it not much after the local elections, otherwise it is more likely to become embroiled in the General Election campaign the later it is left. It's hard to see them trying to back out of it to be fair. McCreevy has nailed his colours to the mast and it would be highly damaging to him to back down now. They are fairly locked into it now because the regions would be extremely unhappy to see it reversed while Dublin more than likely wouldn't balance that disquiet out. The 'another broken promise' angle would be quite damaging in a cumulative effect and would draw out the anger of people from the last general election which would not be welcome in fianna fail strategy planning circles.

I think they will end up decentralising a few thousand, maybe not the full ten though.
 

Dinarius

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2004
Messages
37
DECENTRALISATION

crosswind,

You could be right though the fact that it was introduced as part of the budget, meaning that McCreevy didn't have to ask anyone about it, surely means that it is open to challenge.

Either way, the real sin is not moving up to 10k people here and there, it is the fragmentation of the workings of the state which is crazy. We shall see.

Meanwhile...........two pieces from yesterday's Sunday Indo.

http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/ ... e_id=10924

....and

http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/ ... e_id=10924

This line from the first article says it all....."It appears to be designed to facilitate those who have originally moved to Dublin to take up positions in the civil service."

Exactly. Playing the parish pump card at the expense of those who are from Dublin, or don't wish to move.

And this paragraph from the second article illustrates how undemocratic it is.........

".....there was no Government Green Paper (discussion document) to define how this huge relocation exercise might best be achieved. And there was no White Paper (decision document) to show how the decentralisation plan would actually work. There was no prior consultation with those most affected, the public service workers who are being asked to move.

And there has been no discussion in the Dail on the details of the Government's proposed programme, either then or since."

Could it be challenged constitutionally? Any experts here?

D.
 

Libero

Well-known member
Joined
May 22, 2004
Messages
3,000
DECENTRALISATION

Could it be challenged constitutionally? Any experts here?
I'm no expert, but I can't see how. Any suggestions? The unenumerated right to earn a livelihood is a real source of protection for ordinary citizens, but nobody is being expelled from the Civil Service, a la the Offences Against the State Act. Indeed, the Government have been careful to hedge their proposal with waffle (probably empty) about how nobody will lose out in career terms if they refuse to make the move.

Of course enabling legislation may confer blatantly unconstitutional powers on a Minister, or a Ministerial order may be ultra vires. But that can happen with nearly anything they get up to. :(
 

Dubliner

Active member
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
128
DECENTRALISATION

The IT drama is a separate one, being played out under the smokescreen of the decentralisation scheme.

The dissolution of existing IT departments and the removal of all IT work from the Dublin area is a cover for a power-play by Finance to seize control over all IT and to out-source to various companies that have been lobbying hard for business since the IT industry down-turn.

The Civil Service IT sections have been weakened over the years by disasterous personnel management policies. The loss of key experienced Dublin-based staff will be the death-blow to a cadre that once took immense pride in its work and innovation. Indeed, the choice of location might be intended to drive out the most experienced staff who would otherwise ask awkward questions of the computer contractors.

The irony is that most of these staff could continue to be useful thanks to remote working & video conferencing but these options are only to be avalable for rural staff according to government ideology.

Excuse me, I've got to go look for an exit....
 

crosswind

Active member
Joined
Oct 15, 2003
Messages
160
DECENTRALISATION

And so it begins, Parlon admits that the decentralisation move will not remain on schedule. They've also drawn up a new plan to lure civil servants away from Dublin which kinda gives credence to the accusation that they are making it up as they go along. Maybe fears expressed above are not necessary.
 

Conor

Moderator
Joined
Apr 7, 2004
Messages
5,206
DECENTRALISATION

Widescale decentralisation is a non-runner, and has been from the start. Sir Humphrey would never allow it.
 

Dubliner

Active member
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
128
DECENTRALISATION

It was interesting to hear Parlon on the radio, he seems to think that the scheme will be complete once the buildings have been erected and fitted out.

He mentioned the CAF but gave no information about how many from Dublin offices had volunteered. The critical thing will be how many people volunteer to go anywhere and how many volunteer to follow their departments.

What happens if the quota is not reached? Will there be empty buildings around the country?

What's the cost of the 'churn' he accepts might happen? This can be measured in many more embarrassing blunders like e-voting as inexperienced staff try to take on jobs for which their only qualification is the willingness to work in some decrepit town & hardship for members of the public waiting for public services administered by clueless 'promotion-tourist' staff.
 

LooseCannon

Active member
Joined
May 30, 2004
Messages
260
DECENTRALISATION

Decentralisation could be so good for the country if it was done well, focusing on the towns targeted in the National Spatial Strategy. Building up an economic mass to ensure that decent public transport systems can be run like reopening Western Rail.
Instead locations like Knock Airport are pencilled in to receive staff. Barking mad.
 

Ulysses

Active member
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
160
DECENTRALISATION

....McCreevy has nailed his colours to the mast and it would be highly damaging to him to back down now......

[...]

I think they will end up decentralising a few thousand, maybe not the full ten though.
Correct and right on the first point. The decentralisation policy is McCreevy's, and although others are rowing in behind it, the truth is that no Dublin-based TD genuinely supports it.

The wheels may come off between September and January. The application system went live recently. It was designed to close in July, after the local elections and during Dail recess. However, it will probably have to be delayed because the applicants don't yet have a full list of the places they can apply for (!). The likelihood is that it will close in August, and that an indication of the numbers volunteering to move will start to emerge after that.

If the people in the know in the Civil Service are right, there will be 2,500 applicants for 10,500 jobs. This means that the other 8,000 will have to be recruited from outside. At the same time, the Government have given a promise to the Civil Servants that they will be "accommodated" in Dublin. In order to meet that commitment, the Government will have to pay the salaries of an extra 8,000 people! This won't all happen at once, but it is still an enormous commitment to take on over 2-3 years.

8,000 people cost a lot of money. As a rough rule of thumb, you can take it that their annual wage bill will be €300 million. Even allowing for natural wastage in Dublin, it could take over 10 years to work those excess numbers out of the system. This means that the Government's promise to Civil Servants could end up costing Irish Taxpayers up to - wait for it - two billion euro.

As this cost factor starts to emerge - as it inevitably will - public opinion will go negative on the issue of decentralisation, even in provincial areas. At that point, the Government will have 3 choices:

- Bear the extra cost;
- Renege on their promise that decentralisation will be voluntary;
- Curtail the programme.

I think they will (with the help of various Sir Humphreys) opt to curtail the programme, proving crosswind right. In that scenario, the most popular locations (e.g. Drogheda, Newbridge) will get an early go-ahead, while the rest will be put on the back burner. The full programme will never be officially abandoned, but the moves to the less popular locations may never happen.

My guess is that ultimately about 4,500 people will be relocated. However, if that happens quickly, i.e. by end 2006, it can still be used as a vote-winner in a mid-2007 election campaign.

All speculation, of course. But trust me on that €2 billion figure.
 

Dubliner

Active member
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
128
DECENTRALISATION

How many of those volunteering to be relocated will come from Dublin offices?

Not only will the number of volunteers be well below 10,300 but most will be from non-Dublin locations. You'll find many trying to get out of places like Limerick & others trying to move closer to their home counties.

There's also the absurdity of side-lining experienced & difficult to recruit IT staff who want to stay in Dublin while employing contractors to do their jobs down the country. Current rates for IT contractors are between 800-1000 euro daily when taken from one of the big consultancies. A better idea would be to make provision for remote working by Dublin-based IT staff, many of whom do not need physical access to the hardware.
 

Dinarius

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2004
Messages
37
DECENTRALISATION

Ulysses wrote:

"I think they will (with the help of various Sir Humphreys) opt to curtail the programme, proving crosswind right. In that scenario, the most popular locations (e.g. Drogheda, Newbridge) will get an early go-ahead, while the rest will be put on the back burner. The full programme will never be officially abandoned, but the moves to the less popular locations may never happen."

Ahem........I wrote above, "I think they'll have no problem filling the satellite/dormitory towns around Dublin. People are already living in them anyway, or they'd be happy to, or they'd like to commute to them against the traffic every day.

But, the likes of moving the NRA to Ballinasloe when no one wants to go, or Fisheries to Clonakilty will be abandoned."

;-)

By the way, what programme was Parlon on?

Thanks.

D.
 
Top