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Calls of whitewash over Irish 'nixer' probe

IRISH GOVERNMENT investigations into 'nixers' - private moonlighting work - by local authority engineers and officials was this week condemned as a 'whitewash'.

Dublin Green MEP Patricia McKenna told NCE the probe into double jobbers had so far failed to address the problem and insisted that town hall engineers who persisted in taking nixers or attempted to use influence on planning issues should be sacked.

'In other jobs, people would be out on their ear, ' said McKenna. 'The government says that even if it publishes its report, it may delete names of those involved. This is a whitewash.'

The Republic's 34 local authorities were told to report to environment and local government minister Noel Dempsey by 4 April detailing staff involvement in private work and potential planning irregularities. The action followed last December's discovery of a bogus planning application made to Roscommon County Council by two engineers and a technician.

Other revelations have emerged since, with Kerry County Council reprimanding two engineers over nixers.

Dempsey is now considering other local authority investigations.

But Institution of Engineers of Ireland director general Paddy Purcell said the IEI would await the outcome of the inquiry before deciding if any action should be taken. Non-declaration of private work to an employer is a breach of the IEI's code of ethics.

Purcell stressed that the vast majority of local engineers performed their duties legally. But he added: 'Sanctions for those in breach of the ethics code could range from a reprimand to expulsion from the Institution.'

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