Friday 22 September 2017

Councillor 'surprised' at expenses gripe

Barry Duggan

A FORMER senator who repaid travel expenses which he had claimed while his car was off the road has expressed surprise that a complaint has been lodged against him.

The controversy involving Limerick city councillor Pat Kennedy has just been referred to the ethics watchdog, the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).

But Mr Kennedy has said that he has no case to answer after repaying almost €1,700 to Limerick City Council -- money which he said he had claimed as the result of "an honest and genuine mistake".

The complaint was lodged with Limerick City Council against the Fine Gael politician after the Irish Independent had revealed last month that he had repaid €1,690 after his expenses were queried by senior council management.

A man from Cork made the complaint under the 2001 Local Government Act.

Mr Kennedy has refused to comment, despite repeated attempts to contact him. But in papers seen by this newspaper, he makes his defence, which has since been forwarded to the authority's ethics register and also to the SIPO.

Conferences

Mr Kennedy wrote: "I am surprised to receive a complaint under the above legislation. I dealt with the matter appropriately and without delay to the satisfaction of the city management at the time."

Mr Kennedy made the claims for travel and subsistence expenses for five conferences and seminars last year. At the time, his Mercedes car was at a garage following an accident.

Mr Kennedy said his wife drove him most of the time that his car was off the road and the garage made a car available to him on a number of occasions.

"In claiming expenses for attendances at approved conferences/seminars, I inadvertently and unintentionally (but in good faith) inserted the registration number of my own vehicle, rather than that of the other vehicles used," he said.

He claimed that "an honest and genuine mistake" occurred when he filled in the claims forms on March 10, 2010.

Following the revelations, Mr Kennedy has also repaid €2,600 to the Association of County and City Councils and the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland.

Irish Independent

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