€1 million State rent bill for offices and warehouses in Laois

Most buildings used by the decentralised Department of Agriculture

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

€1 million State rent bill for offices and warehouses in Laois

Nearly €1 million worth of public money is being spent renting offices and other buildings in Laois, and most is covering the cost of decentralised Department of Agriculture services.

The Office of Public Works manages buildings and property for the State and Government departments.

Figures released to the Leinster Express show that €996,538 is spent annually renting offices and other premises.

Of the 12 rentals, ten are located in Portlaoise.

The highest rent paid is €264,640 per annum for a Department of Agriculture office in Portlaoise.

Rent for two other offices for the same government department runs to €100,000 and €114,381.72

A warehouse is costing taxpayers €107,919.25 each year to store items for the department.

Two offices at Grattan House on the Dublin Road run beyond €74,000.

A Department of Agriculture appeals office is costing €84,051.49.

Another Agriculture records warehouse sets the State back €98133.16 each year.

Other costly premises includes the Data Protection Commissioners Office in Portarlington at €73,500 and €50,000 rent for a National Council for Curriculum and Assessment office in Portlaoise.

The lowest rent is €3,750 for a rifle range in the Abbeyleix area.

The concentration of Department of Agriculture services in Portlaoise is the result of decentralisation announced by former Minister Charlie McCreevy in 2003.

The Fine Gael Labour Government announced in November 2011 that the programme should be cancelled in the light of the budgetary and staffing outlook.

However, by that year hundreds of staff had already moved to Portlaoise and other locations around the country.

Planning permission was sought and granted to centralise all Department of Agriculture staff working in Portlaoise at one location.

However, the project earmarked for the IDA Business Park on the Mountrath Road, Portlaoise has never been progressed by the OPW or the Department.