Just 5% of NW bound DARD staff live here

JUST five per cent of 845 Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) staff liable to transfer to the new headquarters at Ballykelly live in the North West.

Seven DARD staff are from the Londonderry and Strabane areas though 39 in total are from a wider geographic area encompassing the whole of the West and North West.

Other staff likely to benefit from the move are from: Bushmills (2); Castlederg (1); Coleraine (4); Cookstown (4); Enniskillen (4); Londonderry (5); Maghera (1); Magherafelt (9); Omagh (5); Portrush (2); Strabane (1); Ballymoney (3).

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill revealed a total of 845 DARD staff currently headquartered at Dundonald House and Hydebank are within the scope of the transfer to Ballykelly.

Although the vast majority of staff will have to commute further to Ballkelly than they do currently, the Minister said the move would be a boon to the North West.

“As well as the construction jobs supported through the refit of the accommodation at the site, local businesses and suppliers in the area will benefit from a much larger customer base,” she stated.

“The new headquarters will need to be serviced, with functions such as cleaning, catering and security services which will impact on employment in the area.

“I will also ensure that the development of the site benefits the local community - how that will be met will be included in the business case but I envisage, for example my Department being able to open up its conference rooms for community use,” she added.

“As well as that this relocation will open up employment and promotion opportunities for the people living in the local area. It will also ensure greater accessibility to DARD services for those living in the region.

“I believe that this relocation to Ballykelly emphasises that DARD is a Department that promotes regional economic re-balancing and is committed to the sustainability of rural communities,” she added.