CONNOLLY DEFENDS CO COUNCIL EXPENDITURE ON CANADA TRIPS AS “MONEY WELL SPENT”

9 May 2014 2 Comments by The Northern Standard

Expenditure by Monaghan Co Council on sending delegations to Prince Edward Island and other locations in Canada represented “money well spent” in light of the tourism return being generated by this link, Independent councillor Paudge Connolly stated at Tuesday’s meeting of the county authority.

Colr Connolly was responding to references to the Council’s spending on sending a delegation to PEI in 2012 contained in a major news feature in Tuesday’s edition of “The Irish Independent”.

A six-page feature, described as a “special investigation” by the Independent’s Public Affairs Editor Shane Phelan and other news staff, detailed the expenses received by local authority members in Dublin and Leinster in 2012-2013 and highlighted various aspects of the remuneration members of City and Co Councils receive. The analysis also provided the subject matter for the lead story in Tuesday’s edition, under the heading: “Revealed – the pay and perks of your local councillors”.

One of the reports in the feature, by Shane Phelan and Paul Melia, dealt with expenditure by the local authorities surveyed on foreign trips.
It stated: “One of the largest bills was from councillors in Monaghan, where 11 councillors left the country over the period studied. The Council has 20 members.

“The total bill for 2013 was €6,774, with mayor Hugh McElvaney (FG), deputy mayor Noel Keelan (SF) and Paudge Connolly (Ind) visiting Prince Edward Island in Canada in 2012, which is twinned with Monaghan.
“Return trips were made by other members the following year, and also to Miramichi in Canada which is also twinned with the county. In 2012, some €10,534 was spent.”

The Independent stated that it would publish details of the earnings of councillors in Connacht and Ulster in today, Thursday’s edition.
Referring to Tuesday’s article at the same day’s Council meeting, the last of the authority before the local government elections on Friday May 23, Colr Connolly noted its reference to Monaghan councillors attending a conference in PEI and the expenses attached to the trip.

Acknowledging that he was one of the councillors concerned, the Independent representative asked if there was any way that the Co Council could make a formal reply to the newspaper and let them know the value of this conference to their county.

Colr Connolly said that he had no objection to the Independent publishing details of councillors’ expenses as this information was in the public domain. However, he felt the value of the link between Co Monaghan and communities in Canada which had strong genealogical links with the county should be pointed out.

Referring to the number of bed nights the hospitality sector enjoyed as a result of visiting Canadians, he said that if one valued a bed night at €50 and allowed for €50 expenditure in the local economy by each visitor, earnings in the county in the past year from such visitors would be in the region of €60,000, and based, on projections, the figure for next year could be in the region of €80,000.

“BOOKING IN BY THE BUSLOAD”
“They are booking in by the busload and we should be getting that message out there,” Colr Connolly stated.

The North Monaghan representative also defended participation by councillors in Canadian delegations, stating: “It is hard work, it costs you money and it leaves you quite tired coming back.”

He added: “Unless we challenge the concept that this is wasted money, people will believe it.”

Colr Connolly said he would not be participating in such trips if he believed that €1 from public money was being wasted. It was encouraging this sort of contact they should be, and people in PEI and other parts of Canada did respond positively to local politicians when they went out there.

Co Manager Eugene Cummins, who was asked to comment on the matter by Colr Connolly, said he hadn’t seen the article in question but the relationship …

2 Comments »

  • Edie said:

    In defense of the Irish delegation to PEI, it is well worth the money as Paudge Connolly pointed out. In my family alone all five of us have visited Ireland, some as many as three times. Last September 33 people including myself went to Ireland for 2 weeks another bus load from the Miramichi was in Ireland at the same time. This was because people like Paudge Connolly, Noel Keelan and Hugh McElvaney visited Prince Edward Island and make people want to visit Ireland. Willie McKenna has been a wonderful ambassador for Ireland for a quarter of a century.

  • Marven McCarthy said:

    Does the twinning agreement with Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada,have any benefit to Co. Monaghan? Definitely, and there is clear proof. Maritime Travel Miramichi has been sending coach tours to Monaghan since 1999. This began because your first delegations had people like Willie McKenna and Hugh McElvaney who were not at all shy about going on the stage at the Canadian Irish Festival in Miramichi and telling all present about Co. Monaghan. Your present delegates continue to “sing the praises” of Monaghan as Mayor Sean Conlon, Deputy Mayor David Maxwell & Cllr. Ciara Phillips did at the festival in 2013. Last year alone Miramichi Travel provided 475 bed-nights, as Willie calls them, to Monaghan. And various other New Brunswickers are visiting Monaghan. These people shop, eat and sometimes will have a wee sip, certainly helping the economy of Co. Monaghan. This year Maritime Travel Miramichi has 3 Tours travelling with Rice Coaches and visiting Co. Monaghan.
    Marven McCarthy, Tour-Coordinator, Maritime Travel Miramichi