Council ‘booze & snooze’ junket

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

MID-ULSTER Council is remaining tight-lipped over the cost of a junket to Dublin.

Four Councillors and a Council Officer enjoyed a night out across the border at the ratepayers' expense on Saturday, 4th February.

The five were able to enjoy a drinks reception at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Dublin Airport, a three course meal and music and dancing to finish off the night.

Accommodation was then also available to each Council representative, as well as mileage expenses.

They were making the trip down to the LAMA Community & Council awards, for which the Seamus Heaney Centre was nominated in the 'Best Heritage Project' category.

The meal cost a princely 175 euro, or £150, per head, though the Council has not revealed the additional costs of accommodation and mileage.

It means the cost alone of the five tickets was £750. It is also not known if those visiting were given 'plus ones'.

The Courier checked the price of a hotel room for Saturday, 4th February at the hotel, with rooms costing up to £205 for the night, meaning the Council could face a bill of close to £2,000 for the excursion.

It is standard practice for the Council to send just two representatives to such functions, often the Council Chair or a Committee Chair and a Council Officer, as was the case when Castlecaulfield won the Britain in Bloom competition in Birmingham.

However, it was decided on this occasion that five people were to attend.

Attending the event were Council Chair Trevor Wilson (UUP), Deputy Chair Sharon McAleer (SDLP), Cllr Dominic Molloy (SF) and Cllr Martin Kearney (SDLP), as well as the Director of Culture and Leisure, Anne-Marie Campbell.

Objections had been raised at the January meeting of Mid-Ulster District Council by the DUP's Kim Ashton to paying for five people to attend the ceremony, however, nationalist Councillors in the chamber voted her objection down.

At the conclusion of the LAMA Community & Council awards evening, the Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy lost out to a project in County Westmeath.


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