Limerick council leader criticised for trip to London

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Council leader, Cathaoirleach Kevin Sheahan has defended his impending visit to London, saying no party leader at council had expressed any opposition to it.
ANTI-Austerity Alliance councillor Cian Prendiville has called for the setting up of a watchdog to monitor the way money is spent on council trips.

ANTI-Austerity Alliance councillor Cian Prendiville has called for the setting up of a watchdog to monitor the way money is spent on council trips.

It comes after council leader Kevin Sheahan announced he was to take a five day trip to London next month. Cllr Sheahan is planning to stay in the British capital for a number of days.

Cllr Prendiville says he has not yet been given a full outlay of the Cathaoirleach’s plans, but has been led to believe he will be able to claim for just over £84.00 each day.

As chairman, Cllr Sheahan does not need any approval to go on council visits, unlike other councillors who need the backing of the full council.

Now, Cllr Prendiville wants checks and balances put in place. “Every week I get cases of people looking to get basic maintenance work done on their council house, or in their estates, work that would only cost a few hundred euro but often they get sent to the back of a long queue, and told that spending is for emergency cases only. However, the same level of scrutiny doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to trips or conferences for the Cathaoirleach and councillors. When I tried to raise problems with some conferences being approved previously, the Cathaoirleach ruled me out of order. Now I’m told that spending on trips by the Cathaoirleach himself don’t even have to come before the council, or any committee.”

He conceded that some trips are necessary.

“But a five day trip to London, with flights, accommodation and €500 spending money seems excessive to me,” he added.

Cllr Prendiville has lodged a notice of motion looking for the committee at the next meeting of City and County Council on Monday week.

In response, the Cathaoirleach said he has made no secret of his impending visit.

“I have no idea what is wrong with that man,” he said, referring to Cllr Prendiville, “I told the party leaders [of my trip] at the last meeting, and there was no voice of dissent. But he was not present at this meeting. I took note of his opposition and I left it at that.”