MORE than €45,000 was spent on foreign trips undertaken by members of Cork County Council last year.
A total of 12 trips were taken over the course of 12 months and the total cost of flights and accommodation for the elected member representation was almost €45,796.64
This information was made available following a request by Independent County Councillor Diarmaid Ó Cadhla who said he would like to see a complete ban on foreign trips.
Mr Ó Cadhla said that people had a right to be dismayed and even angry at the expenditure.
“For example, I am aware of a tenant of Cork County Council, a 75-year-old man in Cobh, who has had no heating in his home for three years, right through the freezing weather last year, and there are many such cases.
“Such people are right to think that expenditure on these trips are a complete waste of money and amount to no more than junkets.”
Mr Ó Cadhla said that he felt members of the council were ill-equipped to take these trips under the guise of developing businesses contacts.
“Members of this council are unlikely to be either technical experts in the field of energy or in the development of such business connections.
“The statement that such trips benefit people in Cork is not justified in my opinion, business development and supporting both outbound and inbound investment is the task of state agencies such as the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.”
Mr Ó Cadhla said that in the “in the current economic climate, in light of the crisis in housing and health, I would prefer to see a complete ban on foreign trips by local Councils.”
Fianna Fáil Councillor Joe Carroll said he found the motion “ridiculous” and he had found the trips “enlightening.”
“You get to meet people and they explain what’s going on and how we can apply things in Ireland.”
Mr Carroll also said that he had been in the company of Mr Ó Cadhla on a trip who he said looked like he was having a great time.
Councillor Kieran McCarthy, Cobh, agreed with Mr Ó Cadhla that these trips were a waste of money and needed to be curtailed.
Sinn Féin Councillor Danielle Twomey also supported the motion from Mr O’Cadhla calling for the curtailment of foreign trips.
“It is hard to go to constituents and tell them money is going on junkets.”
Deputy Mayor Mary Linehan Foley highlighted the fact that the money spent on foreign trips was ringfenced for that function and could not be used for other things such as housing or road repairs.