Junket crackdown as council spends €300k in 2 years

Sinn Féin has called for a “junket crackdown” after new figures showed a cash-strapped local authority spent almost €300,000 on visits, trips, conferences, and seminars in two years.

The figures for 2010 and 2012 show Cork City Council spent:

* Almost €50,000 on four trips to China;

* €8,000 sending 14 people to pick up awards at the excellence of local government ceremony in Dublin. Half the funding, €4,719, was spent on “other costs”;

* Over €4,000 sending 10 people, including eight city officials, to the 2010 awards ceremony, when €2,595, was spent on “other costs”;

* €800 sending two people to an awards ceremony in the Burlington in Feb 2011, where hotel costs were just €99 and no other costs are listed;

* Over €6,000 on two trips to Sardinia — one of which was to make a presentation on investigating homelessness.

The figures also show that councillors claimed €113,000 in conference expenses in 2010; €90,000 in conference expenses in 2011, and have claimed €16,000 in conference expenses so far this year.

Four Fianna Fáil councill-ors topped the 2010 conference expenses league table:

* Kenneth O’Flynn claimed €13,986 — just over €5,000 for mileage with €4,800 on subsistence;

* Sean Martin claimed €8,974 for conferences;

* Terry Shannon claimed €7,942;

* and Tim Brosnan claimed €7,894.

The figures were released by city manager Tim Lucey following a written question from Cllr Chris O’Leary (SF).

“There is no money available for traffic calming measures, public lighting or estate resurfacing, the council is struggling on housing repairs and maintenance, but yet two trips to Dublin to collect awards cost over €12,000 and four trips to China cost nearly €49,000,” Mr O’Leary said.

“People are being faced with real hardship as a result of government cutbacks.

“In this climate it is simply scandalous that councillors from the very parties which are preaching austerity to ordinary people should be drawing down thousands of euro to go around the country and world on junkets.”

Mr O’Leary asked Mr Lucey if he felt the spending was providing value for money.

Mr Lucey defended the expenditure, and in particular, the spending on trips to China and San Francisco. “I am satisfied that the figures expended will help provide significant long-term return to the city.

“This is exactly the role that the city council should fulfil.

“The council must lead the promotion of the city and maximise the return from its twin and sister cities,” Mr Lucey said.

Sinn Féin party members on the council do not claim conference expenses and force a vote on expenses at every council meeting.

Big trip spenders

CHINA TRIPS

* Dec 8-16, 2011

Lord mayor Terry Shannon and two officials travel to Shenzhen, Beijing and Wuxi.

Hotel costs: €1,248.67

Travel costs: €3,218.58

Subs: €1,574.47

Other costs: €2,869.84

Total: €8,911.56

* Mar 6-15, 2011

Lord mayor Michael O’Connell, his wife, two city officials, and three Cork chefs travel to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Wuxi.

Hotel costs: €1,605 (Accommodation in Hangzhou was hosted)

Travel costs: €7,145

Subs: €1,972

Other costs: €1,475.67

Total: €12,197.67

* Sept 5-12, 2010

A councillor and two officials travel to Shanghai.

Hotel costs: €3,546

Travel costs: €4,152

Subs: €663.32

Other costs: €2,653.17

Total: €11,014,49

* May 25-30 2010

Lord mayor Dara Murphy, his wife, three councillors, and two city officials travel to Shanghai to visit the World Expo and sign sister city agreements.

Travel costs: €7,172

Subs: €6,352.42

Other costs: €2,501.50

Total: €16,025.92

SARDINIA

* Mar 7-11, 2011

Deputy lord mayor Denis O’Flynn and four city officials travel to Sardinia for conference on homelessness.

Hotel costs: €1,700

Travel costs: €604

Subs: €607.50

Other costs: €269

Total: €3,180.50

* Sept 2-6, 2010

Lord mayor Michael O’Connell and two city officials attend conference in Sardinia.

Hotel costs: €272.99

Travel costs: €486.15

Subs: €2,815

Other costs: €55

Total: €3,629.14

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AWARDS IN DUBLIN

* Nov 9, 2011

Fourteen people (one councillor and 13 officials) attended the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards in the Burlington Hotel.

Hotel costs: €1,938

Travel costs: €692.50

Subs: €663.88

Other costs: €4,719

Total: €8,013.38

*Oct 2010

Lord mayor Michael O’Connell, his wife, and eight city officials attended the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin.

Hotel costs: €945

Travel costs: €490

Subs: €235.97

Other costs: €2,595

Total: €4,265.97


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