Members of Kilkenny County Council’s area staff are receiving awareness training to cope with escalating levels of abuse which many have been subjected to in recent months, the monthly meeting of South Kilkenny’s Councillors was informed on Wednesday last.
At the May meeting of the Piltown Municipal District, Area Engineer Ian Gardner said the awareness training was particularly geared at assisting outdoor staff, who are now “experiencing significant abuse a great deal of the time”, he stated.
This abuse has reportedly included members of the public “driving directly” at staff who have recently worked in some of the most testing conditions experienced in a generation in the wake of Storms Ophelia and Emma.
Mr Gardner’s comments suggested that roadworkers have borne the worst of the abuse briefly outlined during his roadworks programme update for the District, in what was the second to last item raised during his regular monthly presentation.
The news came as an unwelcome development for Councillors, a point which was suitably articulated by Labour’s Tomás Breathnach.
“It’s putting it mildly to state my personal disappointment that training of this kind has to be provided by any local authority in 2018,” he said.
“I know it’s been a matter of public record within our own Council in recent months, along with our neighbouring authorities in Waterford, South Tipperary and Wexford, that elected members have repeatedly and rightly highlighted the outstanding work which outdoor staff remained steadfastly committed to in the most inhospitable weather conditions witnessed in this country for a generation.”
Cllr Breathnach added: “Of course, I commend the Council for providing such awareness training; it’s always welcome to see an employer responding to the expressed needs and concerns of employees. But I would plead with the public to demonstrate more consideration to our outdoor staff, who, in recent months, have responded so gallantly in the face of, at times, unprecedented weather conditions. And I feel it’s worth repeating our appreciation for the efforts of the outdoor staff, which, as an elected body, we deeply value.”