BY KIERAN O’MAHONY
THE number of Council outdoor staff has fallen by 400 since 2008, a West Cork councilor has claimed.
Cllr Paul Hayes made the comment at a recent meeting when councilors were calling on Cork County Council to hire more staff on the ground in order to maintain basic services like road maintenance.
At the Western Committee meeting in Clonakilty, Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) proposed the motion, calling on the Council to lift the embargo on the hiring of Council workers in West Cork. ‘They haven’t replaced those that have retired and if it continues like this, we’ll have no one on the roads,’ said Cllr Collins.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) seconded the motion and said it was of particular importance for the many men who engaged in the Gateway Scheme who were hoping to get full-time jobs down the line, but didn’t get the chance.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) also supported the motion and said if the embargo could be eased, it would help the situation. Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said that these workers on the ground are the ‘bread and butter’ of the Council.
Cllr Joe Carroll said the lack of manpower is always the reason given by the Council when he asks about getting certain works carried out. ‘Health and safety is taking away from it, too, as more manpower is being used to adhere to health and safety regulations. We need to balance it and we need more staff across the county,’ he said. Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) questioned if an embargo is in place and pointed out that the main problem is finance.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said there are now 400 less outdoor Council staff than in 2008, and that it was better to be pro-active than reactive.
Clodagh Henehan, divisional manager of the Western Division said that finance is the big issue when it comes to hiring staff. ‘At the moment the Council is addressing it and there will be a review of what’s needed,’ she said.