The Fine Gael Vice Chairman of South Tipperary Co. Council has criticised the Government for not informing staff of both councils about the merger decision before announcing the news in the media last week.
And South Tipperary County Manager Billy McEvoy has expressed disappointment that council management and staff weren’t made aware of the decision before it was officially announced.
Council Vice Chairman Cllr Michael Murphy levelled his criticism after receiving reports that some council staff members first heard about the merger while listening to the radio on their way home from work last Tuesday.
He said he was contacted by a number of council staff members, who were very disappointed that they learned the news in this manner.
“I am not happy with the way the news was communicated. I think the county managers of both North and South Tipperary Co. Councils should have been told of the decision well in advance and their staffs should have been briefed at a meeting that particular morning.
“In any private enterprise where there has been job cuts and closures the staff are always briefed beforehand.
“Lessons must be learned from this. It’s not acceptable and not good enough that staff find out on the national radio that there is to be an amalgamation, which does effect them,” added the Clonmel councillor, who was a Fine Gael candidate in the recent general election.
Billy McEvoy said he was disappointed with the way the announcement was handled.
He said there obviously had been some rumblings that changes were afoot given the recommendation of the Local Government Efficiency report to merge some local authorities but he had throught the government would first review the recommendation, make the decision to merge and then do some work on the matter as happened in the case of the Limerick merger before making an announcement.. “Obviously its the Minister’s decision and that is his prerogative,” he said.
A Department of Environment spokesman responded that the matter was only decided at last Tuesday’s Government meeting and the decision was announced at the earliest possible opportunity.
“The requirement of cabinet confidentiality prohibits any briefing in advance in relation to matters that are the subject of Government business,” said the spokesman.
“The issue of local government structures generally and related issues such as the scope for greater integration and efficiency have been a matter of public consideration and comment for some time, including consideration in reports such as the Local Government Efficiency Review and the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes of July 2009.
The latter proposed the rationalisation of local government structures and recommended reduction in the number of city/county councils from 34 to 22. Other commentators have suggested more radical consolidation of local government structures,” he added.