Newry, mourne and down district council Welcomes Dard Minister To Downshire Campus
The Downshire Civic Centre in Downpatrick reached another major milestone in its new public sector campus development project when DARD’s Fisheries Division took up residence in June 2015.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Naomi Bailie welcomed the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill to the Downshire Civic Centre on Wednesday 2 September before leading a tour of the new Fisheries Divisional headquarters.
Speaking after the tour Councillor Bailie said, “I very much welcomed today’s visit by the Minister and I am delighted to have lead the tour of DARD’s Fisheries Divisional Headquarters now based in the Downshire Civic Centre, Downpatrick. This relocation plays a huge part in the on-going regeneration of the town whilst also securing further jobs in the Down area. The decentralisation of approximately 60 central government jobs from Belfast to Downpatrick is an important boost not only for Downpatrick but also for our wider district. As well as securing jobs, this development will also help to stimulate the local economy.”
Cllr Bailie continued, “The innovative campus, the first in the north of Ireland, offers first class facilities for public sector workers, as well as being an excellent resource for local people, businesses and the wider community in south Down. I am delighted that the relocation of the Fisheries Division has further enhanced our vision to help make this new shared public sector campus a reality.”
Speaking at the new Fisheries HQ at Downshire Civic Centre, Minister O’Neill said: “I am delighted to be visiting my fisheries staff in these modern offices and to see how successfully and smoothly the team moved these 50 posts from the Stormont Estate, on time and on budget.”
“Downpatrick is an ideal location and clearly demonstrates DARD at the forefront in delivering on the Executive’s commitment to decentralise civil service posts.”
“Significantly, it means our fisheries team is closer to the industry and our key fishing ports in Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie. I am certain it will also bring social and economic benefits and encourage other public sector jobs to the town.”
Built on the former Downshire Hospital site, the development of a shared public sector campus now delivers a wide range of public services, including Council, Planning, NI Fire and Rescue Service, NI Housing Executive, DARD Fisheries Headquarters and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chief Executive, Liam Hannaway stated, “The relocation of DARD’s Fisheries headquarters is the latest in a long line of investment on the estate which demonstrates the Council’s commitment to supporting the sector in securing jobs locally. Our investment in the public sector infrastructure as a whole supports around 300 full time equivalent jobs in the Downshire Civic Centre.”
“The transfer of jobs to Downpatrick is an important step for everyone across the district; it brings a new wave of activity to the area and creates new footfall on the streets. Across the public sector campus, just under 1,000 employees are now coming to work, shop, eat and enjoy leisure pursuits in the town. The accomplishment of this ambitious project could provide the catalyst for further investment and job creation in the district.”
This development comes at the same time as work is well underway to build a new PSNI station on the Downshire Estate campus.