AN Independent councillor is calling for a ban on foreign trips or ‘junkets’, after figures showed the local authority spent over €45,000 on 12 foreign trips by councillors last year.
At a meeting of Cork County Council, Cllr Diarmuid Ó Cadhla (Ind) sought the figures on the cost of foreign trips undertaken by the Council in 2018 and how each of these trips contributed to the well-being of people in Cork.
Figures released to the media showed that the cost of flights and accommodation across 12 foreign trips came to €45,796.64.
Cllr Ó Cadhla said there was anger from people about the expenditure on these trips.
‘For example, I am aware of a tenant of Cork County Council, a 75-year-old man in Cobh, who has no heating in his home for three years, right through the freezing weather last year and there are many such cases,’ said Cllr Ó Cadhla.
‘People living in these conditions are then looking at these foreign trips and believe that they are a complete waste of money and amount to no more than junkets. We could carry out a lot of housing repairs with €45,796.64.’
He said that in light of the current housing and health crisis he would prefer that these foreign trips were stopped and added that he felt members of the Council were ill-equipped to take these trips under the guise of developing business contacts.
Skibbereen-based Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) then said he was, in fact, in the company of Cllr Ó Cadhla on one such trip and it looked like Cllr Ó Cadhla was ‘having a great time’.
Cllr Carroll added that he had found foreign trips to be ‘enlightening’.
‘You get to meet people and they explain what’s going on and how we can apply things in Ireland,’ said Cllr Carroll.
However, Cllr Kieran McCarthy (Ind) agreed with Cllr Ó Cadhla’s motion and said he was ‘never on a junket’ himself, and that the trips are a waste of money and should be curtailed.
Cllr Danielle Twomey (SF) also voiced her support for the motion, and said it was hard to tell her constituents that money is being spent on junkets.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Mary Linehan Foley (Ind) said that the funds used for foreign trips come from a separate fund that can’t be used for anything else like housing or road repairs.
In summarising, Cllr Ó Cadhla said that there are State agencies like the IDA who are very competent in dealing with business investment.
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