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Mayo County Council: Who wants €7,000 to write an LGBTI strategy for us?

Mayo Supporters: Photo Credit: London Street Pics on Flickr under CC licence

A little microcosm of the way the state spends your money, here. At this link, you’ll find a tender document issued by Mayo County Council, seeking a person, persons, or company to author an “LGBTI+ inclusion strategy” for County Mayo.

There are a few notable things about the document.

First, and most oddly, for a tender document, there is no competing on price. Whoever wins will get a guaranteed fixed fee of €7,110, excluding VAT, for doing the job.

This is odd. In some tender projects, like, for example, a major construction project, you might not want to be offering the job based on price alone: For example, if you’re building a road, you want it to last. You may well award the contract based on quality, rather than to the cheapest provider.

But in the case of authoring an LGBTI+ inclusion document – given that literally thousands of such documents already exist, €7,110 seems a little bit excessive. Is there really nobody who would be willing to do it, for, say, two grand?

For comparison, here is the National LGBTI+ inclusion strategy, which, presumably, also covers the good people of County Mayo.

It is – and this is no joke – thirty four pages long. But about nine or of those pages are contents, and appendices, and the front and back cover. The other pages have nice big pictures on them. In terms of actual content, the thing is probably about fifteen full pages.

And that covers all of Ireland.

So why is Mayo County Council budgeting €7,110 – guaranteed, remember – to whomever comes up with a similar document for County Mayo? Isn’t that absurdly wasteful?

Anyway, waste of money aside, let’s get into what the Tender asks for:

“Mayo County Council wish to develop a local LGBTI+ Strategy to form a roadmap to address the needs of LGBTI+ persons in the county. The plan should be informed by other strategies e.g. the Glen Report and the national LGBTI+ strategy, LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy, as well as dovetail into local plans e.g. Mayo Local Economic and Community Development Strategy.  Mayo LGBTI+ Strategy should inform MCC on how best to move forward in collaboration with our stakeholders to improve the quality of life for LGBTI+ citizens in Mayo.”

When they say that their strategy should be “informed” by other strategies, like the national strategy, what they’re really looking for is someone to localise the national strategy down to things that Mayo County Council can do.

In the first instance, that’s not a lot of work, objectively.

But in the second instance, isn’t it the job of….. local councillors?

After all, this is a document, apparently, that’s supposed to set policy for Mayo County Council. But the people of Mayo elected a county council, with elected councillors, to set policy for Mayo County Council. Why are they now spending seven grand to ask someone else to do it?

If Mayo County Council wants an LGBTI+ inclusion strategy, why can’t it just form a committee of the county council to formulate one?

Then there’s the other question: Why, exactly, does Mayo need an LGBTI+ strategy in the first place? Ireland’s a pretty small country. We have national laws. There is no need, for example, for Mayo to change any laws to accommodate LGBTI+ people. A Gay Person living in Mayo has the same rights and duties as a Gay Person living in Cork, or Dublin. LGBTI rights, after all, are a national competence. Mayo County Council does not set policy when it comes to the LGBTI community – that’s a matter for the Dáil.

So why do they need this at all?

The truth, of course, is that they don’t. It’s a box ticking exercise, and, at a later stage, down the road, a photo op for the councillors. The local newspapers will be adorned by local dignitaries, and parliamentary hopefuls, “attending the launch of the Mayo LGBTI+ strategy”. That’s the whole point of this. There’ll be an outing onto the radio for a few local activists, too. And then the whole thing will be put in a drawer somewhere, with the box ticked, and forgotten.

And in the meantime, some company that makes a living producing glossy reports for Ireland’s multi-billion euro NGO complex will pocket 7 grand of taxpayers money, for producing a document that probably won’t be twenty pages long.

That’s how the country is governed. The rest of us suckers just pay for it.

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