Roscrea-Forgotten Town24th April 2012
I have serious concern regarding a recommendation currently before the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter T.D, which provides for the complete closure of the Equality Authority Office in Roscrea. Following on from a Governmental decision taken some months ago to reduce the number of state agencies it was decided that the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority would be merged. As a result of this upcoming merger it has now been recommended that the Roscrea offices of the Equality Authority be closed to cut down on administrative costs. These recommendations are currently with Minister Shatter who will have the final decision on whether or not to implement the recommended cuts.
This further blow for Roscrea cannot be allowed to proceed.
This closure would be a devastating blow for the people of Roscrea and for the loyal and dedicated staff of the Equality Authority Office. We are talking of approximately 20 staff, many of whom have been in this unit since it was decentralised and have proven themselves to be capable, diligent and loyal. These staff would be facing chuge upheaval for the second time in a short number of years if this closure proceeds. The recommendation currently with the Minister has acknowledged the contribution made by staff and has stated that appropriate transition arrangements should be put in place for them. This is little consolation for someone who may have a family or ties to the Roscrea area and cannot simply up and move when their office relocates.
The last Government had proposed the expansion of this office which was a mark of the successes achieved there. This Government however has put a stop to its further growth and have now left a serious question mark hanging over the building and a cloud of doubt hanging over the staff.
It took a lot of difficult negotiation and sensitive political intervention to bring the Equality Authority to Roscrea as part of the decentralisation programme. Since this office established in Roscrea it has been hugely successful and beyond complaint. Yet despite this the staff of this unit will now suffer, as will the town of Roscrea itself. While the jobs are not necessary being lost, they are being lost from Tipperary and the closure of this office would no doubt have a negative impact on the local economy of the town by cutting out some of those who would have done business there. Roscrea is a town that has been particularly badly hit over the past year and this closure would be another attack.
The people of Roscrea are reeling from the decisions from the Government over the last year. Over a short period Roscrea has now suffered the loss of beds in the Dean Maxwell Community Nursing Unit, the closure of the Roscrea Courthouse and the relegation of the Sacred Heart School from the construction priority list, now looming large on the horizon is the loss of the Equality Authority office back to Dublin. The people of Roscrea and the surrounding areas must be wondering why the Fine Gael/Labour Government has shown such disregard and a little respect for the welfare and viability of the local community.