Public procurement contracts in Donegal should have a built-in social clause that contributes to the creation of local jobs, a county councillor has said.
Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher made the call for the clause at the reconvened March meeting of the council.
She said the government’s inclusion of a social clause in the national contract for water meters meant the council should be able to adopt such a policy.
Cllr. Gallagher, who has raised this matter in the chamber previously, said: “I was talking about this before everything went belly up because it was a huge issue. We have 48 per cent youth unemployment which is double the national percentage figures. It was relevant before but it is more relevant now,” she said.
“People who are educated are finding it hard to find employment. It is not just about giving them 50 euro a week. We have to try to give them something which is actually real and tangible. I think we need to go further with this and have a local cause as well.”
Sinn Féin councillor Mick Quinn said the nature of the recession means drastic action is required. Such action had been taken by Conor Murphy in the north and the example should be followed in the Republic, he said.
Independent councillor Michael McBride fully supported the motion and said local companies are being prevented from applying for work and have had to lay off staff as a result.
“I would be very happy to see some good from this motion because the county needs it very badly,” he said.
Cllr. John Campbell said something needs to be done to get local companies and businesses involved in these tendering process.
The motion was supported by Cllr. David Alcorn who said the people with the skills to do such work are in the county.
Cllr. Seamus Ó Domhnaill asked that the council does everything that it can to help people.
Fine Gael councillor Bernard McGuinness said the council needs to put pressure on so that there is a social clause in contracts.
Director of Corporate Services, Liam Ward, said the inclusion of a social clause in public contracts advertised by the council to provide an advantage to local suppliers would potentially conflict with EU Treaty principles and directives on public procurement.
Marie Therese Gallagher said such a social clause can be included because it has already been done by the minister for environment. She said there are people form Donegal working in Austraila and London who would be living at home if they had the choice.
“If the biggest contract in the state can have a social inclusion so can the smallest,” she said.