This blog post by a former county councillor, Donal Corcoran, has caused quite a kerfuffle over the last few days in Kildare. It details what conferences Kildare County Council was charged for by councillors for tickets to over the last year. Yes, that last sentence appears terribly structured but it’s that way for good reason; it appears county councillors didn’t attend all the conferences for which the claimed the cost of tickets.
To get this straight; councillors didn’t attend conferences for which they requested the council pay for tickets. It doesn’t seem to be them over-claiming on their own expenses, instead they seem to be wasting money by not turning up at conferences which the council paid for them to attend. Complicated sentence structures all ’round but I hope you get my drift.
The Leinster Leader and Kildare FM have followed up the story – Leinster Leader without attributing it to the original source unfortunately (“as seen by this paper” tut tut, what’s wrong with crediting blogs, lads?) – you can get their coverage here and here. (Kildare FM credited the story to Leinster Leader). Jim at Primal Sneeze gave me a heads-up on it earlier in the week, you can read his feelings on the matter at this link.
Strangely, some of Kildare’s reps claimed for attending days like “Maximising Your Vote” and “Get Elected: You the Media”. These seminars appear to be geared towards improving an individual’s personal political potential, not their abilities or understanding of the issues they’re elected by the people of Kildare to cover. They really should be paying for these events out of their own pockets, not yours and mine, right?
Maybe a few of the regional and local journalists and bloggers who read this website will consider contacting their own local authority and ask for similar information. It may available on request without submitting an FOI. We could do with a better picture of what type of seminars councillors are attending in the name of improving the standard of local governance. At the moment I suspect widespread junketeering.
I’d also be interested in hearing from conference organisers, surely councillors don’t turn up at conferences that might be on a Friday, sign-in, stay until lunch and disappear? They’d never do that, especially not conferences held far enough away from their area that they’d have to claim an overnight allowance, surely not?
Incidentally, John Gormley has announced new restrictions on the amounts councillors can spend annually in attending conferences today.
If you get similar information from another local authority please do email me at coughlanmp AT gmail DOT com.
Update: Tweet came in from Dermot Looney, councillor in Tallaght, he says, “Those of us who refuse to claim any Conf expenses & divert that money to homeless accomm instead never seem to get a mention!”. I’m further informed that 15 of the 26 South Dublin councillors have pledged to do the same, all party reps bar the Fine Gaelers. Note: I haven’t checked that and am taking Cllr Looney on his word.
If you know of councillors who do other such things get in touch and I’ll be happy to list them here.