Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Local Government ethics

In Wicklow...........
Tommy Cullen an Independent councillor in Wicklow may be investigated by the Ethics Registrar as the councillor's register, that is declaration of interests, was not on file in the council offices as required by law.

Under the Local Government Act, 2001, councillors are obliged to make annual declarations, listing land and property in which they have an interest.

A complaint has been made by a collegue on the council calling for an investigation into the councillor's declarations from January 2005-January 2006 and several other years.

Meanwhile in Kerry..........
Two councillors have denied being aware of breaching ethics rules.

Fine Gael mayor of Killarney Sheila Casey and Fianna Fáil's Pat O'Donoghue appeared before the first ever Standards in Public Office Commission investigation into local authority members yesterday.

Mr O'Donoghue is managing director of the Gleneagle group while Ms Casey is a front office manager of the Killarney Valley Hotel, which is leased by the Gleneagle Group.

The issues is one of the rezoning of lands adjacent to the Gleneagle Hotel. Mr O'Donaghue said his family - which has been involved in the Gleneagle Hotel since 1957 - believed the current zoning was unsuitable and decided to have the lands rezoned to "tourism" and "associated town centre" facilities.

Mr O'Donoghue - who is also a director of Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland - said he drew up a motion and approached fellow councillors, including Ms Casey, and asked them to sign it. He did not sign as he did not consider this would be appropriate. He also took no part in the debate. He did not leave the council chamber because he was not advised it was necessary to do so.

Mr O'Donoghue said he did not appreciate at the time that it was not proper for him to seek support, as a businessman, for the motion and he infringed his obligations as a councillor inadvertently. He said in hindsight he should have left the chamber during the debate.

Ms Casey said the motion, proposed on March 6th, 2006, was a first-step process that would have involved a public consultation and an environmental impact study before going back to the council for a final vote.

She believed the people of Killarney should have the opportunity to give their views. At no time did she believe that employment with the Killarney Valley Hotel would be deemed to have given her a "beneficial interest".

She said her involvement with Mr O'Donoghue was limited to her employment in one of his family's hotels, and their positions as councillors. She had no day-to-day contact with him.
Ms Casey said she looked at every individual motion on its merit and would never be influenced by her employment.

Meanwhile in Galway.........
A notice of appeal has been lodged on behalf of Galway County Councillor Michael Fahy, who was given a one-year jail sentence and fined €75,000 for the misappropriation of council funds.Legal proceedings to have the conviction overturned began in earnest before the weekend when Cllr Fahy’s solicitor, Colman Sherry, announced that a notice of appeal and the grounds of appeal against the Circuit Court decisions have been lodged with the Court of Criminal Appeal.Mr Sherry said that Cllr Fahy was lodging his appeal against both the conviction and the sentence. It is understood that the action will be mentioned in the Court of Criminal Appeal today.Michael Fahy was convicted in the Circuit Criminal Court in Galway on seven counts of fraud, attempted theft, deception and false accounting. The conviction followed a garda probe into the erection of council-funded wire fencing on his farm in Ardrahan in 2002 and 2003. He denied all the charges.

2 comments:

EWI said...

Shouldn't the title of this post really be "Councillor Ethics" or "Local Politician Ethics"? When this popped up in my RSS feed, I thought at first that it was another public servant scandal.

Anonymous said...

Donegal Councillors and County Councillors are getting away with Ethics breaches for years and noone is doing anything. Big pockets - small mouths!

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