Damaging conservatism in the Irish media

Letter in today’s Irish Times.

When I read the particular Editorial referred to by the letter writer I came to the same conclusion.

The Editorial, and a number of other editorials on the same matter, reflect a deep and damaging ultra conservatism in the Irish media.


Your Editorial on property tax is sheer nonsense. “We are living beyond our means”, it begins. Yes we are.

But the problem is not a lack of property tax: as anyone who has paid stamp duty knows,

Irish home-owners have been royally fleeced in recent years.

The reason is that as the Local Government Efficiency Review Group has identified, at a very minimum €511 million is being wasted on excessive layers of local government and hierarchy, waste which that report – commissioned by government – recommended be ended.

You could have used your Editorial to urge government to eliminate waste in local government.

And to curb eye-wateringly generous pay and pensions conditions enjoyed by the large number of the 32,000 local government employees whose role is administrative and unconnected with the provision of any real services to the public.

Instead you observe “Nobody likes to pay tax” before describing the “contempt for civic morality” of those opposed to the tax.

Can I suggest that the real “contempt for civic morality” is amongst those who expect hard- pressed homeowners to suffer more taxation to fund the egregious waste of public money.

Yours, etc,
Marc Coleman

The Cllr. Kennedy expenses scandal trundles on

Email to Fine Gael Headquarters.

To Whom It May Concern:

It is reported in today’s Irish Independent that Fine Gael considers the controversy surrounding Cllr. Kennedy’s expenses to be an internal matter. Is this correct?

Yours etc.
Anthony Sheridan

Dear Anthony

You are incorrect. This is very much a public matter, but as it is the subject on an internal investigation, I am precluded from comment.


Vincent Gribbin
Head of Internal Communication
Fine Gael Headquarters
51 Uppr Mount St, Dublin 2

Damn, foiled again by the ‘I am precluded from comment until the investigation is complete excuse’.

The ones that got away

According to a report in yesterday’s Irish Independent Fine Gael Cllr. Pat Kennedy is surprised that I made a complaint against him regarding his ‘mistake’ in claiming expenses.

The report from Limerick City Council makes clear that it was forwarded to the Standards in Public Office for their information.

But, just in case, I rang SIPO to inquire whether they intended taking any further action.

Yes, I know, a waste of a phone call.

SIPO will be filing the report, probably under – The ones that got away.

Cllr. Kennedy: It was an honest and genuine mistake

I finally received the Cllr. Kennedy report last Friday. Its contents were predictable.

Cllr. Kennedy outlined the matter pretty much as it appeared in media reports.

His principal point was that he had made an honest and genuine mistake which, when it was brought to his attention, he immediately refunded the payments.

Limerick City Council, after considering Cllr. Kennedy’s excuse, decided that he was telling the truth.

The Council summed up as follows:

The matter highlights the importance of ensuring that claim forms are properly and accurately completed before being submitted for payment.

Having regard to this and the requirement for openness and transparency in the public service, the undersigned have decided to refer a copy of this report to the Standards in Public Office Commission for their information.

It would, of course, have been astonishing if the outcome had been any different.

I considered submitting the complaint to SIPO but it’s an absolute certainty that the outcome would be the same – and Christmas is nearly upon us.

Cllr. Kennedy refunding money to all and sundry

I’m still waiting for that promised report from Limerick City Council regarding allegations that Fine Gael Cllr. cheated on his expenses.

In the meantime it seems that Cllr. Kennedy can’t stop paying back money to all and sundry.

A report in yesterday’s Irish Independent tells us the Cllr has refunded a further €2,600 to two national bodies from which he claimed mileage expenses.

This is in addition to the €1,700 he refunded 18 months ago for travel expenses that he wasn’t entitled to.

Update on complaint against Fine Gael Cllr. Pat Kennedy

On 20th Oct last I received a letter from Limerick City Council informing me that Cllr. Kennedy (Fine Gael) had been requested to submit a report by 1st November to the Council regarding allegations that he cheated on his expenses.

This arose from my formal complaint regarding Cllr. Kennedy’s activities.

The Council assured me that they would contact me after reviewing Cllr. Kennedy’s report.

Having heard nothing since I rang the Council today and was informed that Cllr. Kennedy’s report was to hand and would be forwarded to me very shortly.

Politicians still abusing expenses

Once again we see the political expenses system being abused without any serious reaction from so called regulatory authorities.

Fine Gael councillor Pat Kennedy claimed travel expenses for the use of his car to attend five conferences and seminars in February and March 2010 when, in fact, his car was off the road due to an accident (Irish Independent).

Cllr. Kennedy told Limerick City Council that the car he rented for the period in question was changed on a number of occasions by the rental company.

When challenged Cllr. Kennedy chose not to provide any other car details and repaid the money (€1,690.65) in April 2010.

Limerick city manager, Tom Mackey, accepted the payment from Cllr. Kennedy and took no further action.

I contacted the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) this morning with the intention of making a formal complaint but was informed that I must first make a complaint to the Ethics Registrar of Limerick City Council (Copy of complaint below).

This latest scandal raises a number of questions.

Did Limerick City Council officials check with the car rental company to verify Kennedy’s claim that his rented car was changed on a number of occasion?

Company records would immediately confirm or otherwise this claim or, indeed, if he rented a car at all.

Is there a requirement/duty on public officials like city managers to report matters of this kind (to anybody) or can they just nod and wink behind closed doors?

I wish to lodge a formal complaint under Part 15 of the Local Government Act, 2001 against Fine Gael Councillor Pat Kennedy.

The complaint concerns a report in the Irish Independent dated 4th October 2011 in which the following allegation is made against Councillor Kennedy.

That he claimed travel expenses for the use of his car during the period October 1, 2009 through to March 31, 2010 when his car was off the road due to a traffic accident.

Specifically, Councillor Kennedy claimed that his car was used to travel to five conferences and seminars in February and March 2010 when, in fact, his car was not available to him during this period.

Yours Sincerely
Anthony Sheridan

Illegal election posters? We saw nothin

I phoned the environment section of Cork City Council today to inquire what action had been taken against those who had illegally erected election posters all over the city prior to the election.

At the time I was informed that although the city’s litter wardens had not spotted any illegal posters they would keep a sharp look out for any breach of the law and appropriate action would follow.

No, I was informed today, not a single illegal poster was spotted by the ever watchful litter wardens.

Ah well, at least my amazing gift for predicting future events with 100% accuracy is still intact.

In my pre election call I informed the official that no action whatsoever would be taken as a result of the illegal posters and so it has come to pass.