THE public sector recruitment embargo was the subject of some criticism as Shannon area councillors met last week.
Councillor Gerry Flynn put forward a motion asking for details of all local authority projects carried out by private contractors, specifying the works that had been carried out and the cost of them to the county council.
In a written reply, senior executive engineer Eugene O’Shea stated, “The depletion of outdoor staff numbers in recent years and the embargo on recruitment in the public sector has resulted in increasing amounts of works that were traditionally carried out by the council’s direct labour force, in both water services and roads areas, having to be contracted out. Due to staff resource issues in the Shannon office at present, it is not possible to provide the level of detail requested but this can be reviewed at a later date, subject to resource availability.”
Responding, Councillor Flynn said more and more services are being privatised from the council. He also said the way things are going, the council will be seen more as a revenue raising body, rather than as one that provides services.
Councillor Michael Fleming was critical of the embargo, noting that in Shannon a crew of workers currently needs a supervisor and that unemployed people are well capable of filling jobs.
Independent Patricia McCarthy said the embargo was “a very crude instrument”.
Councillor Flynn said the County Council workforce delivers excellent work and the fact the workers are part of the community they serve is a factor.
Also at last week’s meeting, Councillor Flynn put forward a motion asking “the senior engineer prioritise minor requests from elected members in relation to road repairs or other more minor works on a month-by-month basis and provide a list of requested work completed at each electoral area meeting.” He claimed this would help cut out the repetition of motions from members.
In his reply, Mr O’Shea again cited lack of staff. “Due to staff resource issues, it will not be possible to comply with this request. The roadworks programme is agreed annually by the members and requests for works outside of the roadworks programme can only be undertaken where a source of funding can be identified,” he said.