Local Fianna Fáil TD, Jackie Cahill has said that as a result of a recent review of the procurement process, 11 Tipperary companies have lost contracts to supply Templemore College.
Deputy Cahill was commenting after it emerged that 11 companies from the country have lost out to large multinationals for a variety of college contracts.
“It has been estimated that the loss of these contracts will see the loss of €550,000 per year from the local economy.
“Four British and three American companies have been awarded contracts over local Tipperary suppliers in recent months.
“One local coffee supplier, Ponaire, has been in touch with me to say that they have lost their contract with Templemore College. They have been supplying the College for 11 years and now they worry that they may lose jobs as a result.
“Additionally, a local Thurles dairy co-op lost out on supplying milk to Templemore College to a supplier from the north of Ireland.
“This co-op has been supplying dairy to trainee Gardaí living and studying at Templemore College for many years. It doesn’t make sense to me to award this contract to a company over 100 miles away when there is a local supplier that is well able to deliver.
“With the recent review of all contracts at Templemore which was requested by a member of the Public Accounts Committee, many local companies supplying items such as bread, bacon and dairy products, have lost out.
“In many cases, it’s a David versus Goliath battle that the small local supplier will never win. They simply cannot compete on price, but do compete on quality and environmental impact.
“The impact of all these local suppliers losing their contracts with Templemore will be horrendous. It will destroy the local economy and risk jobs not to mention the environmental impact of transporting milk from so far away.
“The Government waxes lyrical about supporting local jobs in rural counties like Tipperary. Yet, in the area where it has direct control over contracts, it decides to award a contract to a company over 100 miles away.
“When you look at all the criteria that are used to award the contract, the local co-op matched the eventual winner except on price.
“If the sole criterion is price, then many local businesses up and down the country will not be able to match the larger corporations.
“This is in the hands of the Government and the State. They have the power to decide the priority they give to supporting local enterprise and agri-business suppliers.
“Fianna Fáil published a bill this time last year, the Public Services and Procurement (Social Value) Bill 2017 to ensure that small and medium sized businesses are able to compete for public tenders.
“This bill should go a long way in supporting North Tipp suppliers to keep existing contracts and win new ones.
“If the Government are serious about supporting local jobs and business in rural communities, it will amend its procurement rules and ensure that priority is given to local suppliers,” concluded Cahill.