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Government should lift jobs embargo on local authorities to address flooding and freeze damage – Ferris

18 January, 2010 - by Martin Ferris TD

Sinn Féin Environment and Local Government spokesperson Martin Ferris TD has called on the Government to lift the recruitment embargo on local authorities so that vital work to repair roads and other infrastructure damaged during the winter flooding and the prolonged freeze can be carried out.

He stated:

“Roads across the country, especially non-national roads, have been badly damaged by the floods which were quickly followed by the most prolonged winter freeze since 1963. Many roads are still impassable or extremely dangerous due to the damage caused. If potholes and other obstructions are not repaired in due time, then the condition of these roads will deteriorate further, incurring far greater cost for their repair.

“The ability of local authorities to deal with the flooding and the freeze was impaired by the embargo on recruitment imposed by the Fianna Fáil/Green Government. While that Government dithered or, in the case of Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, went on holidays, local authority workers were out in appalling conditions, attempting to assist those affected by the floods and the freeze and to maintain vital infrastructure.

“These same local authority workers, already under pressure because of the jobs embargo, are also subject to the pay cuts imposed in Budget 2010.

“To repair roads, undertake flood repair and prevention measures and maintain safe and reliable supplies of drinking water it is essential that the local authorities are allowed to recruit the staff they need. In April last year the Local Authorities Professional Officers Branch of SIPTU stated that the recruitment ban would have a potentially devastating impact on the number of professional engineers and others working in local authorities who are engaged in services such as producing and distributing drinking water and protecting existing water resource quality. They pointed out that many temporary engineers were let go due to the ban on renewing temporary contracts while experienced engineers retiring cannot be replaced.

“This is an issue of public health and safety in terms of water supplies and roads and the Government should lift the jobs ban on local authorities without further delay.” ENDS

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