“You couldn’t make it up.”

Looks like [Irish] chicken could be back on the menu.. or, perhaps, [British] turkey.. The deal may not be signed yet, but with a Northern Ireland company, McCann’s of Omagh, reported to have “submitted an estimate for the job at about €40,000 lower than any tenderer in the Republic”, the Mayor of Ballyshannon, Fine Gael Cllr. Eugene Dolan, is already criticising the Irish Department of Defence for planning “to go across the Border and sign up a Northern Ireland construction firm for a new €1.5 million building programme for the Army at Finner Camp, near Ballyshannon”. From the Irish Times report

[Ballyshannon mayor Eugene Dolan] “You couldn’t make it up. What about all those pleadings from Ministers to the people to demonstrate their patriotism and shop locally instead of seeking bargains across the Border? You would think they might like to practise what they preach,” he said. “Does anybody think for one minute that if a construction job had to be done at an army barracks in the North it would go to a company south of the Border?”

But before any putative left-wing all-Ireland party objects, Brendan Keown, a director of local construction company GKT, introduces a wrinkle in the proceedings

Most construction work at Finner since 1981 was carried out by local company, GKT. It was one of the companies whose estimate was rejected. Brendan Keown, a director of GKT, said he had no complaint about losing out on pricing grounds. But he questioned what wages will be paid to northern workers. He said companies in the Republic are bound by Construction Industry Federation rates of up to €21 an hour, while rates in the North are about £8.50 (€9.75) an hour.

He said: “The only way northern companies can tender below us is because of the lower wages in the industry that apply there. However, I would have thought that anybody contracting to work for the Irish Government would be expected to pay wages that apply in the Republic.”