WHILE the new government has cut back severely on foreign trips for St Patrick’s Day, it has been confirmed today that three separate trips involving Limerick politicians have been organised at cost to the tax payer.
The Limerick Leader has learnt the Mid-Western Regional Authority, a tax-payer funded, indirectly-elected organisation based in Nenagh, Tipperary, is spending almost €5,000 to jet its chairman, Fine Gael city councillor Ger Fahy and director Liam Conneally to New York City. The trip commenced last night, with the pair not due back until 24 hours after the city’s parade concludes.
Elsewhere, Limerick County Council Cathaoirleach Richard Butler and planning director Jimmy Feane were in Birmingham over the weekend, with the trip believed to cost in the region of €1,300.
And former Mayor Kevin Kiely is using his conference allowance to cover a trip to Boston for two days following March 17. The northside member is to spend a total of €1,724 on the trip.
However, Cllr Kiely stressed that the trip was offered to every other member of Limerick City Council before they cleared the way for him to take it. He added that his annual conference allowance is just €5,000.
During their stay in New York City, Cllr Fahy and Mr Conneally will stay in a “three-star hotel” in Manhattan, with the Fine Gael councillor joining the Limerick Association in New York for its annual parade.
Both men defended the trip, pointing out that during their week in the Big Apple, they will meet with a variety of tourism and business agencies, including the American branches of the IDA Ireland, Tourism Ireland, CIE Tours, Aer Lingus and Enterprise Ireland.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader, Cllr Fahy said: “I think its very appropriate that we travel. We have so much going for us in this region. We need to promote the Mid-West, and in particular Shannon Airport, and attract inward investment into the region. I have no doubt that it will be a very worthwhile visit.”