Dublin street cleaning and maintenance may be privatised

Rezoning decision could mean outsourcing of service, says council chief Owen Keegan

Street cleaning and road and housing maintenance jobs in Dublin city are at risk of privatisation following the decision of councillors to block chief executive Owen Keegan’s plans for a new “super depot” in Dublin 8.

Mr Keegan wanted to build a “consolidated depot ” at Marrowbone Lane that would become a centre for street cleaning and maintenance staff serving all of Dublin city centre and the southeast of the city.

However, city councillors last week rezoned the land for new sports and recreational facilities for schools and communities in Dublin 8. The decision means city council jobs may have to be outsourced, Mr Keegan said.

Letter to councillors

In a letter sent to councillors ahead of last week’s city development plan vote, Mr Keegan promised to provide new sports facilities and some housing for the Liberties area if he was allowed to build a new cleaning and maintenance depot to allow the closure of a number of smaller depots around the city which were “no longer fit for purpose”.


There was, he said, a need for a “more efficient depot operating model, which will facilitate the provision of improved working conditions for staff, the delivery of a better service to citizens, especially of the southeast and south central areas and the achievement of improved operational efficiencies/cost savings”.

There is already an older depot on the Marrowbone Lane site but this would be redeveloped and modernised to allow for the closures of other cleaning and maintenance facilities.

However councillors including Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh voted to zone the Marrowbone lane site for “amenity and open space”.

“The southwest inner city is 86 per cent below the benchmark requirement for green areas and for facilities such as this. There are 12 primary schools in the area and 11 of them have no green space. There are no playing pitches whatsoever in the area, ” Ms Ní Dhálaigh said.

The councillors’ decision may “put in jeopardy the future of direct labour service provision by the city council by frustrating a long overdue and much needed depot upgrade project”, Mr Keegan said.

Ongoing talks

Siptu, the union which represents the council workers, said talks were ongoing on the issue.

Local GAA club Kevin’s Hurling and Camogie Club – which has long campaigned for sports facilities in the southwest inner city of Dublin said a “super depot” should not be prioritised over sports fields for the young people of the area.

"Dublin City Council really needs to stop using this part of the city as a release valve for the wider social and infrastructure issues that are happening across Dublin including housing, drug clinics, homeless shelters and now a super depot to meet the needs of the wider city. Everyone needs to take their fair share," club spokesman JJ Mahony said.

Mr Keegan had proposed going ahead with the depot, but using more than 50 per cent of the site for a seven- a-side pitch and a four-a-side pitch, in addition to the existing Astroturf field, and 10,135sq m of new residential development.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times