Nine Kerry councillors shared over €7,000 in expenses to attend Donegal conference

Kerry County Council paid out over €7,000 to send nine local councillors to attend a three-day conference on the future of the single currency which was held in Donegal in February 2013. new Kerry County Council  chamber2 It was the best-attended conference by local councillors outside of Kerry during 2013. The sum was part of an overall bill of €68,000 for sending councillors to conferences and training seminars in 2013. In announcing changes to the system recently, former minister Phil Hogan said he wanted to “end the scandal of councillors travelling to a wide range of pointless and ineffective conferences.” The three-day Winter School was held at the Colmcille Heritage Centre in Letterkenny in County Donegal between 22nd and 24th February 2013. The theme for the conference was ‘Will the Euro – The Single European Currency – Survive?’ Among the speakers were Minister of State Dinny McGinley and a number of academics in the economic and banking fields. Nine county councillors from Kerry travelled to the conference, an event which was most attended event outside of the county in 2013. The councillors present were Robert Beasley, Tim Buckley, PJ Donovan, Jim Finucane, Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald, Pat Leahy, Bobby O’Connell, Liam Purtill and John Sheahan. Total registration fees for the conference came to €1,962 while the mileage, subsistence and accommodation expenses incurred by the nine members totalled €5,111. These payments are not subject to tax. The government recently announced that the amount councillors can claim annually for attendance at conferences is to be reduced significantly from €4,700 to just €700.