Threats to outsource Dublin city street cleaning ‘outrageous’

Councillors and unions say privatisation of services should be resisted amid Dublin 8 row

Threats by Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan to outsource council cleaning and maintenance services are "outrageous", councillors have said.

The council members and unions representing council staff said they would resist any attempt by Mr Keegan to privatise services provided by council workers.

Mr Keegan last week sent a letter to councillors warning they may be putting the future of “direct labour service provision” by the council “in jeopardy”, by blocking plans for a new cleaning an maintenance 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.


He promised new sports facilities and some housing for the Liberties area if he was allowed to build the depot and close a number of smaller depots around the city which were “no longer fit for purpose”.

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

"It's outrageous that the chief executive would try to hold us to ransom like this, it totally undermines the democratic process," local Sinn Féin councillor Daithi Doolan said. "Councillors took a decision to have some green space in Dublin 8. To send this threatening letter is beneath his position."

Mr Keegan had a “privatisation agenda” Mr Doolan said, which would be resisted by councillors.

‘Nuclear option’

Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan said Mr Keegan was going for the "nuclear option without any basis".

“He has no right to put staff livelihoods in jeopardy and it is outrageous that he would use threats against staff as a way getting out of addressing the issue of the lack of green space in the inner city.”

People Before Profit councillor Tina MacVeigh said her party would oppose any privatisation. “What he is saying is ‘if I can’t have this, you’re not getting that’. It’s not very helpful and it’s not the way forward.”

Impact and Siptu, which represent street cleaning and road and housing maintenance staff at the local authority, said they did not accept there was a need to privatise any services regardless of what happens to the Marrowbone Lane site.

“It is a nonsense to say privatisation will be the inevitable result of a decision on Marrowbone Lane as there are plenty of alternative sites that could be developed,” Impact official Shane Lambert said.

There was no valid case that could be made for privatisation he said. “Impact will strongly resist any attempt to outsource or privatise council services, and it is completely unacceptable to threaten privatisation as a response to the decision by the council.”

Siptu organiser Jason Palmer said the suggestion direct labour would be in jeopardy was “ludicrous”. “Our members are protected against outsourcing by the public service agreement. Whatever the remedy is to the super depot issue, it won’t be outsourcing.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times