Council bound by confidentiality clause on cost of car

July 18th, 2018 10:10 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Bantry's Barry Walsh, chauffeur to the Mayor of the County of Cork, outside County Hall. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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A refusal by Cork County Council to disclose the cost of the county mayor's new car, a 181 BMW 5 series because of  a ‘confidentiality agreement' will only lead to people asking more questions, a local councillor has said.

A REFUSAL by Cork County Council to disclose the cost of the county mayor’s new car, a 181 BMW 5 series because of  a ‘confidentiality agreement’ will only lead to people asking more questions, a local councillor has said.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hayes told The Southern Star  that he would have presumed that the council would have sought sponsorship of the car similar to the City Council, where the Lord Mayor’s car is sponsored by Ford.

As reported here two week’s ago a call for the county mayor to have a driver came to fruition in the final 10 weeks of outgoing mayor Cllr Declan Hurley’s tenure and is now being trialled for three months.

Bantry-based Barry Walsh has been appointed to the role of mayoral driver. Barry was a member of An Garda Siochana for 32 years. 

Cllr Hayes said: ‘I would have hoped that Cork County Council would have put a call out to dealerships across the county to seek a sponsor for the car. From their point of view that would be workable so a lot of companies would want to sponsor it.

‘Technically, I can see why the Council isn’t disclosing the cost of it, but people will be asking the question – what’s to hide when it’s public money?’

Cllr Hayes said that when the issue was discussed in the chamber his party said they had no problem with the car where the schedule was heavy and also from a health and safety aspect given the huge mileage that was covered as part of the mayor’s schedule; and he has no problem with the provision of a driver.

County Mayor Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy declined to comment on the matter.

There was a big response on The Southern Star’s Facebook page to the story which generated over 133 comments with many critical of both the cost of the car and driver, while many more said it was essential seeing as there are so many kilometres to travel across the county.

‘It’s no wonder that there’s no money to do roads, Why does he need a driver? And why not an ordinary car,’ said Noel O’Brien.

Joanne Coakley added: ‘It annoys me because Cork County Council found money to buy a 181 BMW and employ a driver when I drive and carry my children as passengers on sunken potholes roads.’

Declan Waugh saw a more humorous side of things and said ‘with the state of the public roads, it’s not a BMW that he needs, it’s a tractor.’

There were positive comments too with David Maddox saying ‘every opportunity should be given to a person with a disability to be able to do the job. And good luck to him.’ Patrick Donovan said ‘of course it is good money! City Mayor has a car and no cribbing! It has a larger area to cover in Cork County so it should have always had one.’ 

Martin Dorgan asked why an electric car was not provided to set an example to other drivers about reducing carbon footprint.

Damian Boylan pointed out that he’s the mayor of the largest county in Ireland. ‘It’s a 24/7 job with Mickey Mouse pay.The perpetually angry would never be happy anyway. Good luck in your term Mr Mayor.’

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