The Department of Agriculture has closed 42 District Veterinary Office‘s since 2009, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, has confirmed this week.

Speaking in response to a parliamentary question on the issue that, in line with Government policy, the Department of Agriculture began a process in 2009, of restructuring its local office network.

This resulted in a reduction in the number of local offices from 58 to 16 enhanced Regional Offices.

According to the Minister, a follow-on review of business processes and procedures and, in particular, the administrative support requirements in those 16 offices, resulted in the introduction of a number of significant changes in the implementation of controls in the TB eradication programme.

As a consequence of these changes and having regard to the significant efficiencies, which have already arisen as a result of the investment made by the Department of Agriculture in IT in recent years, the number of staff required to deliver the service in the local offices has been considerably reduced, the Minister said.

He also said that the review concluded that further substantial efficiencies would accrue from the centralisation of administrative support. Minister Coveney said, in light of this, my Department has commenced a process to centralise this support in two ‘back office’ locations, namely Portlaoise and Cavan.

“The centralisation of administrative functions facilitates the redeployment of staff from the Department of Agriculture Regional Offices to other State agencies and, thereby, enable Government to provide services through these agencies more efficiently,” he said.