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Councillors call for disclosure on waste deal

ANGRY Dublin city councillors are set to take legal action to try and force the city manager to reveal the details of the controversial multi-million euro deal with Greyhound over its waste collection services, which remains clouded in secrecy.

The deal to outsource the collection of household and commercial waste in the capital was signed in a bid to save €50m between now and 2017, but descended into chaos earlier this year amid much confusion and public anger at additional up-front charges.

City councillors have been calling on the manager, Dr John Tierney, for several months to release the specific details of the contract with Greyhound to illustrate proper "transparency and accountability" but these calls have come to nothing.

The deal is subject to commercial confidentiality, but councillors have said this is "totally unacceptable" given how much money is at stake.

They are seeking information on whether Dublin City Council is paying Greyhound or is Greyhound paying it for the service; whether proper tendering processes were followed; what risk is there to the people of Dublin if the deal were to collapse; and are there any unknown incentives which could prove costly over the lifetime of the contract.

Correspondence from Dr Tierney to councillors this weekend said he was willing to try and establish some "mechanism" to allow them to have some access to the information but this has been described as insufficient.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Fianna Fail Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick said such a promise is far too little too late and clarity must be given to determine the merits of the privatisation scheme.

She said: "We have held special meetings, passed motions, had one-on-one meetings with the manager, calling on him to reveal the full details in order for us to see, did the people of Dublin get a good deal or not. His latest letter is not good enough and we are not satisfied."

As a result of the privatisation, councillors have said the council's bad debts have soared from €6m to €11m in the space of four months.

They are now considering taking a judicial review in the High Court to force the manager to give full disclosure.

In response, Dr Tierney told this newspaper that the service was outsourced because it was not viable. He said the council was subsidising the waste collection service to the tune of about €10m a year.

He insisted he is in favour of granting access to the councillors but that Greyhound is insisting on the confidentiality being maintained.

Sunday Independent