Traditional seasonal work for locals in a West Donegal area has been cut off by the ESB, it has been claimed.
Independent councillor Micheál Choilm Mac Giolla Easbuig has hit out at a decision not to use local workers who up until this, worked for the State-owned electricity company every summer for many years.
He said it was with great disappointment that he had learned that the ESB would not continue employing the seasonal workers from the area and thereby breaking a long tradition of the company being a positive force and an employer in the community.
"These people have been working for them for a long time in the Clady area of West Donegal. What makes matters worse is the fact they come from an area that is socio-economically deprived thanks to Government policy. A lot of locals depended on this seasonal work to help pay their mortgages and other bills.
"However, the ESB has decided in its wisdom that it's more beneficial to look after the interests of contractors and sub-let all this work and to let all the service and maintenance done by seasonal workers and other staff go undone now. I can't see how it makes sense to take contractors from outside the county here to do the work. It must cost more and this is the taxpayer's money we are talking about."
The councillor pointed out that this area in West Donegal, unfortunately, faced a huge number of gorse fires and now there were concerns amongst a lot of residents in the area and in particular along the canal at Arduns that if a gorse fire happened they could be in danger.
"They feel that because the place is fenced off they could be in difficulties from fires. Because of the fast-moving nature of these fires they are also scared that if any locals went in to fight them it could lead to a serious accident and maybe even death."
He pointed out this left the ESB putting very little investment into the community
A spokesperson for the ESB this evening said all of ESB’s generation stations – including Clady – are resourced based on ongoing work requirements and are supplemented by contractors during specific times of the year.
"ESB’s standard procurement practice is competitive tendering or other forms of open competition, as outlined on our website via Supplier Information.
"In line with procurement policy, contracts for specific works are put out for public tender. ESB does not comment on the awarding of contracts but would like to highlight how ESB’s Clady station has a long tradition of working with suppliers in the North-West region."
The spokesperson added that through the operation of its generating sites, ESB contributes more than €1m to Donegal county through commercial rates and is a long-standing supporter of local events and organisations.
Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig said he was now challenging the ESB to come into their community and explain in a public forum the reasons behind their decision and why they had decided to look after the interests of contractors rather than the local community.
"I feel since the seasonal workers stopped there is not the same level of work visible around the Clady area. I will facilitate a meeting with the ESB in a public forum and I will be raising this issue at county council level too," he said.
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