DESPITE calls by councillors for more outdoor staff to be employed by Cork County Council, they were told at a meeting of the Council this week that there are no plans to recruit more staff.
The meeting also heard a claim that no drains or dykes had been cleared in nine years, due to lack of staff.
Chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, said he will ensure that the Council staff who worked during the floods will be personally thanked and they will also receive a letter from the Council.
However, he ruled out an increase in outdoor Council staff.
‘We have a reduced workforce and we can’t increase it and we have no resources to employ extra staff. It will be hard to get drainage works done and I can’t say that I can start a drainage programme,’ said Mr Lucey.
While councillors were also united in their praise for the great work undertaken by existing outdoor Council staff during the recent floods, several councillors called for the recruitment embargo to be lifted so that more staff could be deployed to clear and unblock the dykes and drains across the county.
Cllr Ian Doyle (FF) praised all the Council staff for working ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ during the floods, but he also pointed out the effect of the current recruitment embargo means ‘there are no front line staff to do the basic housekeeping like clearing drains.’
‘There hasn’t been a dyke or a drain cleaned in our district in the last nine years. We need to draw up a comprehensive plan of a dyke and drain clean-up programme and submit it to the Department of Environment,’ said Cllr Doyle.
Cllr Kevin Conway (Ind) said what’s needed is ‘a man with a shovel on the ground’.
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) also highlighted the recruitment embargo and said there is ‘a lack of staff
on the ground’. Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) said that Cork County Council outdoor staff did their best but there was an ‘inadequate response due to the shortage of staff on the ground’.
Cllr Donnchadh O’Laoghire (SF) also said that the Council does not have enough outdoor staff. He thanked the hard-working staff and called on the Council to give them time-and-a-half for working out of hours.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) also wondered if the Council outdoor staff could be rewarded for their hard work as they went way beyond their duty.
Cllr Andrias Moynihan (FF) said the staff were out on holiday time and they were hugely overstretched. ‘It’s clear the embargo needs to be lifted,’ he said.
County Mayor Cllr John Paul O’Shea also paid tribute to them for working through the Christmas period and he said the Council will be writing to the Department of Environment to ensure they receive more funding.