Independent Cllr. John Paul O’ Shea has this week requested management at Cork County Council to transfer his conference allowance to use repair and upgrade roads in North Cork. Cllr. O’ Shea made the call after it emerged that some members of Cork County Council may claim above the maximum guideline amount set by the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government.
€4,700 is the limit per councillor for sending elected members to conferences, seminars or other similar meetings. There are 48 councillors on Cork County Council which means that Cork County Council has a total conference expense budget of €225,600 (€4,700 x 48) per year. However, it came to light this week that if some councillors do not claim their expenses, the remaining funding could be claimed by other members.
Cllr. O’ Shea said “In my view, €4,700 is and should be the maximum claim per elected member of any local authority, as set down by the Minister earlier this year. It should not simply be seen an arbitrary figure used to calculate the council’s overall conference allowance. I should have descretion with my own conference allowance in which I would like see go towards the repair and upgrade of our roads in North Cork. I have made this clear to management of Cork County Council this week”.
Cllr. O’ Shea continued “I’m not against councillors attending conferences in general, in fact some may even be beneficial, but I do have a severe difficulty if someone wishes to avail of this allowance to fund their own interests. I have seen many examples since I have been elected to Cork County Council where we can save money and use allocations more efficiently. This is another example of how we can change the current culture and one that requires little contemplation in my mind anyways”.