Tipperary Town has been dealt another wounding blow with confirmation this week that 20 administrative staff are to redeployed to another government office resulting in the downgrading of the Department of Agriculture offices (District Veterinary Office) in the town.
Speaking at this month’s meeting of Tipperary Town Council, Cllr. Denis Leahy expressed his disappointment and frustration. He said he found it difficult to fathom how this office which has been part of the town since 1954 had been selected to be downgraded.
‘They have left an office open in Tralee while the office in Tipperary is to be downgraded. They have closed Department of Agriculture offices in Ennis, Limerick and now Tipperary. People need to know the criteria that these downgrades or closures are being based on. It doesn’t make sense to close or downgrade a Department of Agriculture office in an area which has rich dairy and beef industry”, added Cllr. Leahy.
He said he was taken aback about the amount of silence that has surrounded this decision which has come on top of the closure of the Teagasc offices in the last number of months.
“The first we knew of the Teagasc closure is when we saw the For Sale sign going up,” added Cllr. Leahy. He also commented on the increasing number of vacant office space in the town and now the Department of Agriculture offices, which he also pointed out, was a relatively new building and had to be re-roofed in the last number of years at a cost somewhere in the region of €1m.
Apart from this he said there was also the issue of the loss of service to farmers in the area,
“It is all very well to say they can access the service online but there is no broadband in the Glen of Aherlow. There is also the age profile of many of the farmers, many of whom are not computer literate.”
Expressing her disappointment Cllr. Jacqui Finnan said that she hoped it was not a sign of things to come as regards the courthouse in the town.
“It is an absolute disgrace,”stated Cllr. John Hartnett who said he wanted to concur with the previous speakers and he also took the opportunity to ask, “Is there anything happening with our Government Deputy in relation to this. I really fear for this town.”
Adding that while it was disappointing Cllr. Anna Touhy Halligan pointed out that the jobs are being redeployed to the Department of Justice offices in the town and that there was no job loss. Cllr. Touhy-Halligan also pointed out that there are a huge number of courses available in the town offering up-skilling and re-skilling combined with community spirit.
Cllr. Hartnett said he didn’t doubt the community spirit of the town but that what was needed was a stimulus package because of all that was happening with emigration, job losses, pay cuts, cutting of public servants, cutting of public services combined with septic tank charges, water charges, household charges. ‘All these are affecting our local economy because people are not spending.’
‘It is a loss we could do without and should be resisted,’ concluded Mayor Cllr. Ruadhri Devitt and proposed that the write to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to revisit and reassess this decision.
In a statement Minister Coveney clarified that there were no plans to transfer the veterinary service out of the Tipperary office or to close the office, which will continue to be available to the public.
It was also explained that the administrative staff concerned are moving to the Garda Vetting Unit in Tipperary town but that a full frontline presence will be maintained in the local Tipperary DVO including a counter service.