Councillors’ Superbowl BBQ hots up over bill

A FLORIDA politician has picked up a $1,200 (€1,111) tab following complaints about a barbeque party for 27 councillors on a visit from Ireland.

Seminole County Commission Chairman Daryl McLain has agreed to pay the money after local residents complained about spending US tax payers money on the 27 councillors 17 of whom also brought at least one family member on the trip.

The party, to celebrate the American Football Superbowl Final, also included a campfire singsong involving 50 people.

A member of the local airport board who runs a drink distribution business provided 10 crates of free beer for the occasion.

The councillors, from 22 counties in Ireland , were on a fact-finding mission this week to see how government operated in Seminole Country, 18 miles north of Orlando.

The itinerary included visits to landfill sites and local government offices as well as a nine-hour visit to Seaworld amusement park, five hours for shopping and six-and-a-half hours at the NASA launch site at Cape Canaveral.

All councillors were members of the Local Authority Members Association and it was not clear at the time of going to press if the Irish taxpayer or LAMA had paid for their Florida trip.

However, several local authorities contacted by the Irish Examiner said they had not sanctioned the trip for their councillors.

Problems began at the Florida barbeque when Seminole County Commission chairman Darly McLain got phone calls from people complaining about taxpayers' dollars being spent.

"The Superbowl barbeque was already planned, so rather than have the county receive any criticism for it, I chose to go ahead and pay for it myself," Mr McLain said.

The local county commission was left only to pay $170 for soft drinks and a heater for the barbeque Seminole County, a popular tourist destination because of its warm winters, is twinned with Co Wicklow and has had a number of local council delegations visit in recent years.

Mr McLean said that he had visited Wicklow last year and was treated royally by the local county council.

The latest delegation to visit Florida, included Senators James Bannon from Longford, Camillus Glynn from Westmeath and James Walsh from Wexford, are all members of the executive committee of the Local Authority Members' Association, which was visiting Seminole County on a week-long trip that ended on Thursday.

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