Dublin City Council under fire in street-cleaning row

Unions criticise local authority over Dublin Town’s provision of additional services

Unions representing Dublin City Council workers have criticised the use of Dublin Town to provide additional street-cleaning services for the city. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Unions representing Dublin City Council workers have criticised the use of the Dublin Town business organisation to provide additional street-cleaning services for the city.

In a letter to council chief executive Owen Keegan, Siptu and Impact said all of the city's waste-management services can be provided by council staff, without the need for external providers such as Dublin Town.

The letter comes ahead of a vote next Monday on whether Dublin Town should be maintained or discontinued.

Dublin Town, formerly known as Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID), provides additional services such as street-washing, emptying of litter bins and graffiti removal in its district, using funds from city centre businesses.


Members must pay the equivalent of 5 per cent of their rates bill each year to Dublin Town, which has an annual income of more than €3 million, if they have a business in its designated city centre area.

Its 2,500 members are balloted every five years on whether the organisation should continue to operate.

The organisation has said it provides additional services because, while the council provides a “scheduled rostered cleaning service” for all city streets, it does not have a budget for a “rapid-response cleaning service, as provided by Dublin Town for its members”.

It also said the council only budgeted for graffiti removal from its own buildings.

“There is no provision for graffiti removal from private properties,” it said.

‘Incorrect impression’

In the letter to Mr Keegan, the unions said they felt an “incorrect impression” had been given that council staff could not deliver a proper cleaning service for the city.

A new employment agreement meant street-cleaning, bin-emptying and graffiti removal was done on a day-and-night basis, the unions said.

"We believe the waste-management department can deliver services to all areas of the city day and night without the need of external providers, and we are surprised that this message was not outlined more forcefully by Dublin City Council during the debate over the future of the Dublin Town initiative."

The No to BID campaign, which is calling on businesses to vote against continuing the organisation, said the letter showed that Dublin Town’s waste services were not needed.

"[The letter] clearly states that Dublin City Council waste-management staff will have no problem in coping in the event of a No vote, and reinforces the position that there is absolutely no need for Dublin Town and it should be scrapped immediately," campaign spokesperson Kim Condon said.

Dublin Town has said that, in the past two years, it has removed 38,000sq m of graffiti, 34,420 “sharp and potentially-infected items”, 1,370kg of glass and 531 metric tonnes of waste from the city’s streets.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times