O’Neill welcomes Fisheries move

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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has hailed the relocation of her Department’s Fisheries Division to Downpatrick as an important step in the decentralisation of civil service jobs.

The relocation of 50 posts from the Stormont Estate in Belfast to new modern offices at the Downshire Civic Centre, reflects the Minister’s commitment to delivering the Executive’s pledge to decentralise civil service posts.

From June 8 Fisheries will be operating out of its new headquarters at Downshire Civic Centre in the Co Down town.

Minister O’Neill said: “I’m delighted that this first relocation project has been completed on time and on budget. This move brings our department closer to the Co Down ports of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie, which are amongst the busiest fishing ports in Ireland, with my fisheries team now at the hub of the fishing industries.

“I believe this is an ideal location for our fisheries headquarters and will deliver real social and economic improvement in rural areas while enhancing the identification of DARD with the rural community.

“It will also deliver an economic boost to the town as well as have the potential to attract further public sector jobs.”

The Minister said she was grateful to the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for all their co-operation in facilitating this move.

She said: “Good progress continues to be made on the other headquarters relocation projects, Forestry to Enniskillen, Rivers Agency to Cookstown and the remainder of my department’s HQ to Ballykelly.

“Decentralisation offers significant economic opportunities for businesses in all these rural localities. Across the four projects, hundreds of civil servants will be coming to work, shop, eat and enjoy leisure pursuits in rural towns whilst, at the same time, helping to create many more additional service and supply jobs and secure existing employment.”

Some 984 civil servants expressed an interest in moving to Downpatrick.

Forest Service are due to move to Inishkeen House, Enniskillen by September 2015; Rivers Agency to Loughry College, Cookstown by mid 2016 and the remainder of the DARD headquarters to Ballykelly in two major phases in 2017 and 2020.