IRELAND HAS begun a purge of 'moonlighting' local authority engineers.
Irish Environment Minister Noel Dempsey has ordered county and city chiefs to tell him whether staff are doing private work or 'nixers' as they are termed in Ireland. They must report personally to Environment Minister Noel Dempsey.
The 'Nixergate' purge followed an investigation at Roscommon County Council carried out by private detectives.
A council engineer and a technician have been suspended and another engineer resigned after it was alleged they were involved in submitting a house planning application using a false name.
The scheme was not thought part of a widespread scam, but public concern over perceived corruption in the planning process and abuse of position by council officials has forced government action.
Roscommon Council chairman Tom Crosby said the matter highlighted the issue of poor public sector pay.
'They were probably doing nothing more than what many others do elsewhere, but the public is right to be concerned over conflicts of interest. There needs to be a complete review of public sector pay for engineers however, which is making it impossible to compete with the private sector and means engineering jobs cannot be filled, ' Crosby told NCE.
The mid range grade of executive engineer commands a salary of only £24,000 with up to 15 years experience, increasing to £27,000 with a long-service increment after 16 years service.
Mileage and allowances can boost this.
Institution of Engineers of Ireland rules brought in last year ban engineers from doing work without their employers consent. Doing so could lead to an engineer's explusion from the IEI.