KERRY'S most senior civil servant, County Manager Tom Curran, has said that when it comes to government departments awarding contracts for major infrastructure projects it is price - and not a contractor's actual ability or its track record on paying sub-contractors - is the main factor considered.
Speaking during a debate at Kerry County Council regarding the difficulties often faced by sub-contractors in securing payment for work on major projects the County Manager was critical of the methods used by State offices when it comes to selecting contractors for projects such as road upgrades.
Mr Curran said that when it comes to selecting a contractor of the basis of a tender a company's "track record and ability to do the work required comes as a secondary consideration compared to price," he said.
Tom Curran added that management at Kerry County Council, who have no say in deciding which contractors ore selected to carry out major works in Kerry, were "totally frustrated" by the situation.
The issue was raised at Kerry County Council's monthly meeting by Cllr Toireasa Ferris (SF) who said she was aware of several Kerry business people who had not been paid for work on local road schemes that they had been subcontracted to do by larger, non-Kerry based, firms that, following a tender process, had been hired by government to carry out the works.
Cllr Ferris called on council management to introduce a system whereby a contractor would not be paid for works carried out on on behalf of Kerry until it could be proven that all sub contractors had been fully paid.
Kerry County Council Director Of Services Charlie O'Sullivan said that as the council was not party to any contract between a contractor and subcontractor it could not intervene.
Councillors unanimously backed a proposal from Cllr Pat McCarthy (FG) calling on the government to expedite legislation designed to protect the rights of subcontractors that is currently being considered by the government and relevant departments.