Belfast Telegraph

Failure to relocate civil servants 'shambolic'

BY NOEL MCADAM

No staff in the Department of Agriculture have yet shifted into their new headquarters at a former army base – more than a year after the move was announced.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill has admitted she still does not know how many civil servants will be relocated – even though the proposal was to transfer 800 by 2015.

Now the plan is being called into question, with one MLA describing the situation as "a bit shambolic" and the main trade union predicting nothing will happen in the next year.

In a written Assembly answer, the Sinn Fein minister said as yet, no members of staff have relocated and the actual number involved "has still to be decided".

The DUP's Peter Weir, who tabled the question, said: "It does look a bit shambolic.

"While everyone would agree in a general sense about a fairer distribution of jobs, if they do not even know yet how many are going to move it does not look good. Questions need to be asked."

Ms O'Neill, who has given staff an assurance they will not be forced to up-sticks and move the 60 miles to the former base at Ballykelly, added: "An exercise is under way to identify the phasing of areas of work, which will in turn identify posts." A survey earlier this year showed a total of 86% of staff in the current Dard HQ at Dundonald House did not want to move.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said a jobs bonanza for the north west could result from the lack of interest among current Dard staff in Belfast over moving west of the Bann.

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