Donegal County Council may suspend work on the Mica Redress Scheme due to the abusive treatment of staff, it has emerged today.
The council’s chief executive John McLaughlin has revealed that there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that the local authority will stop processing grants as they take legal advice on the offensive treatment of staff, both publicly and privately.
The warning was delivered in an addendum of the Chief Executive’s Report.
Mr McLaughlin said council employees “have been subject of a barrage of abuse creating an intimidatory, hostile, humiliating and offensive environment for them to carry out their work.”
The council’s duty of care to protect staff may lead to definitive action, he said.
Mr McLaughlin said the council is planning to engage with its criminal defence lawyer in the coming days in relation to the “unwarranted conduct”.
County Councillor Gerry Mc Monagle told Donegal Daily that it would be a retrograde move for Donegal County Council to step away from the scheme and appealed for the abuse to end.
“People are probably not aware that this scheme isn’t something that Donegal County Council has any control over. It was given to them by the government and they have to follow those guidelines and criteria. If we could change it in Donegal County Council I can tell you we would have,” Cllr McMonagle said.
Cllr McMonagle has appealed for calm following today’s news, and said the matter will be raised at Friday’s meeting of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee.
“I think it’s imperative that the council continue with the scheme and that they try, where they can, to make it as easy and accessible as they can for applicants. It would be a retrograde step to suspend it at this time,” he said.
“I would appeal to everybody to listen to the advice they are being given by staff and please continue to work in harmony with the staff. It’s not their fault. The scheme is not of their making.”
Cllr McMonagle continued: “I believe our staff should not be subjected to any abuse. They are only there to try and help and assist. While I can fully understand people’s frustrations with their houses being affected by Mica, and the scheme is not the council’s, and it’s certainly not the staff’s and they have to fulfill and follow the guidelines laid down by the department and the government.”
While Mr McLaughlin’s statement highlighted the actions that the council was contemplating, Cllr McMonagle said the matter could be resolved eventually if Mica families’ needs are met.
“This could all be done away with if the 100% redress was given by the government. If they implemented what was agreed in the Dáil weeks ago. All parties, both government and opposition supported the motion by Sinn Fein for 100% redress. The sooner they implement 100% redress the better.”