News

Council’s ‘booze and snooze’ junket cost ratepayers £1,300

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

SEVEN weeks after being asked how much a 'booze and snooze' junket to a Dublin awards ceremony would cost the ratepayers, Mid-Ulster Council has finally provided details of the tab the public must pick up.

It has been revealed the costs associated with attending the LAMA Community & Council Awards exceeded £1,300.

Mid-Ulster Council used ratepayers' money to fund the attendance of four Councillors and one Council Officer on the night out in Dublin.

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.

All five were also permitted mileage expenses and overnight accommodation, although Sinn Fein's Dominic Molloy confirmed to the Courier he didn't consume any alcohol or stay over, instead driving to and from Dublin on the same night. It is understood the Council's Deputy Chair, the SDLP's Sharon McAleer, also opted not to stay over.

The Council representatives were making the journey down to the LAMA Community & Council awards on Saturday, 4th February, for which the Seamus Heaney Centre was nominated in the 'Best Heritage Project' category.

The Council has revealed that on top of the three course meal, which cost a princely 175 euro, or around £150, per head, accommodation costs of £290.72 and mileage costs of £284.70 were paid out.

That leads to an estimated total cost for the night out in Dublin for five people to £1,324.92.

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.

Mid-Ulster District Council has previously defended sending five representatives to the event.

They said: "Given that we were the only Council from Northern Ireland to have been shortlisted in any category, it was important that this significant achievement was recognised by our attendance."

However, the event did not go as Mid-Ulster Council would have hoped, with the Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy failing to win the award, losing out to a project in County Westmeath.

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