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McGuinness criticises councils for not profiting from waste collection

MICHAEL O’REGAN – The Irish Times – Friday, February 17, 2012

FIANNA FÁIL TD John McGuinness has criticised local authorities for failing to make waste collection a profitable enterprise for themselves.

He warned that “dumbing down’’ the county enterprise boards and merging them with county councils would not do the business of Government.

“They are being merged with entities which have outsourced to the private sector the only profitable area of their operations, waste collection, because they have been unable to make money out of it,’’ Mr McGuinness added.

Local authorities could not even make a profit from housing where they had a captive audience.

“Instead, they are proposing to outsource rent collection and local authority housing or transfer responsibility for this function to a single agency,’’ he said.

Speaking during a debate on the Government’s jobs strategy, the Carlow-Kilkenny TD said local authorities did not have the commercial mindset required to understand the needs of the small and medium business sector in local communities.

The county enterprise boards had created many jobs through small businesses and had acquired a reputation for doing business locally.

The Government’s decision to dismantle the boards was a retrograde step and should be revisited, said Mr McGuinness.

Claiming that the local government system was ineffective, Luke Flanagan (Ind, Roscommon-South Leitrim) said he had “personal experience of hell’’ from his six years on Roscommon County Council.

Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind, Dublin Central) said there was a need to be more proactive on job retention.

“I know of small businesses which are in trouble,’’ she added. “A small injection of funding would have kept them going.’’

She said that there were great opportunities in tourism, particularly in terms of culture and sport.

Peadar Tóibín (SF, Meath West) said 76,000 people had emigrated last year. “This amounts to 1,346 people per week, of whom the majority are young,’’ he added.

Mr Tóibín said that as one of a large number of new TDs he found it immensely frustrating to witness the lack of action on jobs.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said the sad truth was that Ireland had forgotten what it was to succeed in a small open economy.

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