The Chairman of ICMSA’s Rural Development Committee, Willie O’Donoghue, has stated that uncertainty over the function and status of the DVO services available to local farmers in several locations across the State both avoidable and irritating. Mr O’Donoghue cited as an example the rumours circulating about a possible downgrading of the Limerick office and an internal re-organisation there that might mean that local farmers may have to travel long distances – possible to Naas -to have certain matters resolved.The responsibility for the confusion, according to O’Donoghue, lay squarely with the Department which he said was obliged to communicate its decisions with the required clarity and reassurances.
“ICMSA is not in the business of bashing the Department here and we realise fully that budgets are under continuous review, but we’d make two points strongly: Firstly, it is not up to the farmer, as the customer, to try and work out what he or she can get done at their local DVO and what he or she may have to travel further afield to get done. The responsibility for informing with clarity and precision ‘who exactly will be doing what’ rests with the Department and they’re simply not doing that. Several DVOs have a question mark over them with reports circulating that they will lose their capacity to handle face-to-face meetings between farmers and officials. Farmers are now faced with the prospect of travelling such distances that it will mean, effectively, the loss of a whole working day”, observed the Rural Development Chairman
“The second point to note here is something I have long commented on: this is the pattern where various ministers, or whoever, announce that economies are to be made in terms of rural offices or on-the-ground representation. Of course, no such economies are made and the same amount of money is spent; what actually happens is that the cost is simply transferred onto the farmers and rural dwellers using that office or local representative. ICMSA has been in contact with the Department and stressed the need to communicate directly with local farmers and to inform them whether all existing services are to be retained at their local offices and – if not – what the new arrangements are to be. We are tired of seeing our rural services systematically stripped-out”, concluded Mr O’Donoghue
Ends 12 Feb 2013.
Willie O’Donoghue, 087-2753147
Chairman, ICMSA Rural Development Committee
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office