'Better ways of spending money instead of heading off on junkets,' war of words in Carlow

Things got heated in the Council Chamber

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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news@carlowlive.ie

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"There are better ways of spending the money instead of heading off on junkets," said Cllr Adrienne Wallace after a war of words erupted at this month's full meeting of Carlow County Council. 

Members were approving forthcoming conferences for October and November  - which includes training for local representatives, a social housing conference and a talk on entitlement to health services. 

Cllr Wallace - who will not be attending the conferences - said if seventeen members attended all of them it would cost almost €20,000 and that money could be "recouped" for more important services or members could "Skype" into the conferences. 

However some councillors, including Cllr Charlie Murphy, said they also do no attend any conferences.

"We should be looking at ways of saving the money instead of heading off on these junkets," she added. 

The comments prompted a strong response from councillors and Cathaoirleach of the Council, Cllr John Pender, said members are advised by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to attend the conferences to be better able to represent the people of Carlow. 

"I don't know anyone that abuses that system," he said while it was also confirmed that members' expenses and conference fees are capped at €700 which Cllr Pender said "most people would be shocked at". 

Cllr Andrea Dalton said: "I take offence at these being called junkets. If we don't go to the conferences and training we are not giving proper public service to the people we're representing."

To which Cllr Pender added: "Well said."

Cllr Arthur McDonald also hit out at Cllr Wallace's remarks and called for her to apologise to members which was met with laughs by Cllr Wallace and some other members. 

Cllr Wallace added: "There'll be no apology."

Cllr Michael Doran said the amount of legislation that they have to read through and the material they have to keep up with is "enormous". 

"All our expenses are available for everybody to see online. No member here has anything to hide," he added.