Healy-Rae firm earned nearly €300k from council for plant hire

A firm owned by Kerry county councillor Danny Healy-Rae and his wife, Eileen, was the highest paid plant hire and haulage contractor to Kerry County Council, last year.

Healy-Rae firm earned nearly €300k from council for plant hire

Figures released at yesterday’s council meeting in Tralee showed Healy-Rae Plant Hire Ltd, Main Street, Kilgarvan, received €294,192.

Both Danny Healy-Rae and his son, Johnny, are independent councillors representing different electoral areas.

The information was provided to independent councillor Brendan Cronin, who has for several years put down a motion seeking a complete list of all plant hire and haulage contractors employed by the council and the full amounts paid to each one.

Mr Cronin said he had consistently looked for the information because he wanted smaller companies to be hired by the council.

“I have always wanted to see smaller contractors getting more work from the council. Nine firms were (each) paid in excess of €100,000, and it’s usuallythe same nine.” Cllr Croninsaid.

Johnny Healy-Rae, who described himself as an employee of the family plant hire firm, said there seemed to be a lack of understanding about the tendering process and said smaller operators, such as oil distributors, benefited from the bigger contractors.

Mr Danny Healy-Rae chimed in: “The money wasn’t stolen. Everyone had to work hard for it and the work and employees involved have to be of a certain standard.’’

Second highest-paid contractor to the council last year was Sandmore Ltd, of Camp Cross, Tralee, €292,733, followed by Tommy Finucane, of Ballydesmond, Co Cork, €273,377.

Other companies receiving more than €200,000 included Clancy Plant Hire of Knockanure, Listowel, €260,933, and Michael Cleary, of Ballyquin, Brandon, €235,895.

Eighty contractors received between €2,000 and €294,000, totalling €4.37m, according to the council’s list, a decrease on 2012.

Council officials said the hire of plant and machinery for all local authorities was procured through a tender process, with value for money being a primary consideration.

A number of councillors asked why information on solicitors suing the council on behalf of clients was refused last month on the grounds of data protection, when other commercial information such as the names and details of plant hire companies could be released.

Fine Gael councillor Bobby O’Connell had requested the information on how much the council was paying out arising from trips and falls, to whom, how much in legal costs and to which firms of solicitors.

Yesterday, council officials said the refusal was because the solicitors were not paid directly by the council but by the council’s insurers.

In the past year, the IPB, the Irish Public Bodies insurance company to the council, had paid out €1.39m in compensation claims and legal fees, and the average payout was €32,000, the council said.

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