Clare County Council trip to China ‘not a junket’

Farms in the Yunnan province of China. Clare's mayor has defended his trip with five councillors and two officials to the region.

The mayor of Clare, Cllr John Crowe (FG), won’t go lonely on his 16,000km round trip to China as five councillors and two officials are to accompany him on the €12,000 trek.

On Monday, members of Clare County Council approved the mayor’s trip to the 46m-strong Yunnan province, likely in April or May, in an unlikely twinning link-up between Clare and the vast Chinese region.

The chair of the council’s low-profile Twinning Committee, Cllr Michael Begley (Ind), said:. “No, it is not a junket and the cost of the trip will be well worth it several times over with the benefits that we hope will come to Clare from it.”

He said the council executive felt it would not be representative “and would be insulting to our Chinese hosts if only two council representatives went and this is why we decided that six councillors should go”.

“The Chinese are very strong on protocol. When the Premier of China, Xi Jinping came to Clare in 2012, he had an entourage of 28.”

Mr Begley said the six councillors include himself, the mayor, and a representative from each council municipal area. “Often, the council is criticised for not doing enough for the county, but here is a project that hopefully will produce huge benefit for Clare.”

However, Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) said the size of the delegation “is not related to reality and it will be very hard to justify the spend to the public who are suffering out there with different priorities at the moment”.

Council director of services Ger Dollard said: “The council has a total budget of €19,500 set aside for twinning in 2015 in addition to its tourism promotion budgets. There was nil expenditure on council twinning activities in 2014.”


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