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Almost €1 million per year ‘bad use of taxpayers’ money’ on rented public service buildings

Photograph of site for Government Offices purchased for €1.03m for Department of Agriculture

Almost €920,000 per year is being spent by the government to rent offices in Laois for the public service.

This, according to Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, is going on while a site, purchased at a cost of €1.03 million for the Department of Agriculture at Mountrath Road, Portlaoise, has been left idle for 15 years.

He said: “17 years after the announcement by then Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy, that government departments were to be decentralised to Portlaoise, they are still located in 7 different buildings.

“The Department of Agriculture is accommodated in no less than 6 of these.

“While decentralisation is very positive and a welcome boost to Laois, it was not done in a planned and cost-effective manner.

“I raised this again recently with the Office of Public Works (OPW) when they appeared before Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and sought further information regarding premises leased for Departments in Portlaoise and the annual cost of these.

“I also sought up to date information on the site purchased at a cost of €1.03 million for the Department of Agriculture at Mountrath Road Portlaoise.”

Mr Stanley says the information he received ‘reveals a picture of poor planning and huge amounts of money being paid for years renting temporary accommodation’.

He said: “The Government is paying a total of € 919,789 per annum for the 7 rented premises.

“The fact this has been ongoing for 17 years, shows that there has been a huge cumulative cost and bad use of taxpayers’ money. The details of leases are as follows:

  • Eircom Buildings (2 leases) €214,382
  • Clonminam Industrial Estate (Warehouse) €98,133
  • Kylekiproe Ind Est (Warehouse) €107,919
  • Kilminchy Court €84,051
  • Grattan Business Centre €264,640
  • Grattan House (2 leases) €74,150
  • James Fintan Lalor Avenue €50,000
  • James Fintan Lalor House €26,514

“The total amount spent would have built substantial offices and warehousing which the Department of Agriculture need.

“What actually compounds matters is the fact that the Mountrath Road site has been lying vacant for years.

“The OPW is currently preparing a master plan for it and among the uses being considered are office accommodation, a vehicle testing centre and State warehouse facilities.

“But they have stated this ‘will be dependent on substantial capital investment’.

“I am calling on Government to now move ahead with this project and not continue wasting public money renting for several more decades.

“Any plan for this site must accommodate all those sections of the Department of Agriculture not located in the existing Government Buildings on the Abbeyleix Road.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.