Agri HQ rent bill hits E12 million

THE State will have spent some E12 million renting property in Portlaoise on decentralisation by the end of this year, official figures reveal.

In a week when the Government met to cut public spending, details supplied by the Office of Public Works reveal that more than E1.7 million is being spent annually renting six office buildings and a warehouse in Portlaoise.

And the spending, which is the result of Fianna Fail’s decentralisation , could go on for some time yet since the State has entered into leases of up to 20 years on buildings in the town for Department of Agriculture staff.

But, while all this money is being shelled out a decision is stalled on building a new national headquarters for the Department in Portlaoise for 800 staff. More than E1 million was also spent buying a site from the IDA in Portlaoise, planning permission was granted but not a single block has been laid.

Under decentralisation nearly 600 Department staff were due to join some 220 civil servants who were already based at a regional office in Portlaoise.

The OPW told the Leinster Express that any decision on the halting of decentralisation to Portlaoise would be a decision for Government. “We have not been advised of any decision to halt the Department of Agriculture project, other Government Department moves are pending review later this year,” it told the Leinster Express.