BERTIE AHERN has admitted that his government's decentralisation plan was "never going to happen".
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune on the second anniversary of his departure from the role of Taoiseach, Ahern said: "Decentralisation was too ambitious. To move the amount of people we tried to move in a short period of time was never going to happen.
"I think decentralisation per se is a good idea but to try and do so much of it so quickly was never going to happen. I readily admit it was too ambitious to do it so quick, but equally so, I think that a lot of the ones that have moved out have worked well."
In his December 2003 budget speech, the then finance minister Charlie McCreevy announced that 10,300 public servants would be dispersed to 53 locations around the country. But the plan, which is currently on hold and expected to be scrapped, has been widely viewed as a failure that has cost the taxpayer over €300m to date.
While Ahern has regrets about decentralisation, he does not accept any responsibility for the housing bubble and its subsequent collapse.
He claimed the property bubble would not have taken off if he had not given in to "media and political pressure" to get rid of the residential property tax in April 1997 that he had the vision to bring in before then.
Ahern denies responsibility for the property bubble and blames globalisation for the collapse. "It's a pity the recession came when it did. A few years would have slowed out the property thing... and we wouldn't have got the quick dip. But the morning Lehman's happened, that was it and this is the trouble with globalisation."
The cost of decentralisation was enormous- The idea was to get over 10,000 Public Servants out of Dublin which seemed like a good idea. However a large percentage of Servants wanted to remain in Dublin and the plan started to fall apart. This plan was poorly conceived and is another fine example of how public funds got woefully wasted...
In some departments like OPW which built a state of the art HQ building in Trim- hoped moving staff at a cost of 100,000 Euro a head would be a small cost to pay but the reality was most employees were reluctant to move- it seems like another FF Folly adventure gone badly wrong. If only the listened to the Servants perhaps that 300 million would could have been put to better use like topping up the pension pot...