MAYORAL hopeful Cllr Pat Kennedy says he has been cleared by Fine Gael of any alleged wrongdoing in relation to mileage expenses claimed for a car that was off the road.
But in a fresh twist on Tuesday night, party colleague Cllr Diarmuid Scully called on Cllr Kennedy to give a full public explanation of the controversial claims.
Cllr Kennedy repaid almost €1,700 in expenses to Limerick City Council for five conferences he attended in the spring of 2010. A report by the city manager exonerated Cllr Kennedy but it subsequently emerged he had also made refunds of over €2,800 to the Association of County and City Councils, the networking body for councillors nationally.
These and other repayments – including those to Limerick City Council – formed part of an investigation launched by Fine Gael headquarters late last year.
And in his first public comment on the controversy, Cllr Kennedy said he has now been cleared by the party.
A statement to the Limerick Leader read: “In relation to the statutory investigation conducted by the city manager and the Mayor of Limerick, in their written report they exonerated me on the basis that I made ‘an honest and genuine mistake’ and that there was no loss of funds to Limerick City Council. In relation to the Standards in Public Office Commission, SIPO, they have confirmed that they never received a complaint in relation to the matter and were not investigating it.
“In relation to Fine Gael, I have now been informed by Tom Curran, general secretary, Fine Gael national headquarters, in a letter dated June 11, 2012, that their investigatory committee has decided ‘not to impose any sanction’ against me ‘being prepared to accept the arguments which I put forward to the committee in my defence’.”
Cllr Kennedy declined to make available the full text of Mr Curran’s letter and said he would not be commenting on the affair beyond issuing the statement.
Fine Gael headquarters had not responded at the time of going to press.
Cllr Kennedy is due to assume the mayoralty on June 25 under the terms of a 2009 pact. Cllr Scully, who leads the Fine Gael group at City Hall, said the party would be discussing the election this Friday. He has also called on Cllr Kennedy to make a full explanation of the expense claims. “I have asked him to make a statement to try and put fears and questions to bed,” said Cllr Scully.
“What I would expect to come out of that is an explanation of all the various payments, what they were for and why they had to be repaid. I think that’s the clearest and easiest way of resolving this, to put all the information in the public domain.”