Saturday 21 October 2017

Mileage controversy councillor set to be mayor after FG pact

Fine Gael councillor Pat Kennedy.
Fine Gael councillor Pat Kennedy.

Barry Duggan

A FINE Gael councillor who claimed mileage expenses while his car was off the road is set to become a city mayor.

Former senator Pat Kennedy -- who repaid Limerick City Council almost €1,700 after his expenses were queried -- is set to become mayor later this month.

A voting pact amongst Fine Gael councillors has paved the way for Mr Kennedy to become the city's first citizen.

Details of the pact emerged as the State's ethics watchdog confirmed it was not investigating Mr Kennedy over the expenses controversy.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) received a file from Limerick City Council after the Irish Independent revealed last year that Mr Kennedy had repaid the local authority almost €1,700 in April 2010.

He gave back the money after senior management at the local authority examined expenses he claimed from October 2009 to March 2010.

Mr Kennedy had declared that his vehicle was not in use from October 1, 2009, through to March 31, 2010. However, he claimed travel expenses citing the vehicle's use for travel to five conferences and seminars in February and March 2010.

Investigation

SIPO said last night there was no outstanding investigation. "We received a file from Limerick City Council and we noted the report. It was not a complaint," a spokesman said.

When contacted by the Irish Independent, Mr Kennedy said he didn't have time to talk about the travel-repayment controversy.

After last year's revelations, Mr Kennedy then repaid three associations for publically elected representatives over €3,800.

He repaid about €2,388 in "mileage expenses" to the Association of County and City Councils; €1,236 to the Local Authority Members Association; and just over €200 to the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland.

The 17 members of Limerick City Council will elect their next mayor on June 25.

Three years ago, nine Fine Gael councillors agreed a pact which would see Mr Kennedy become mayor this year.

Since then, former FG party member Kevin Kiely lost the party whip, but FG councillors expect him to keep to the voting arrangements.

The head of Fine Gael on the city council, Diarmuid Scully, said he expected Mr Kiely would be keeping with the pre-arranged pact to allow Mr Kennedy to become mayor.

Mr Kennedy has consistently declined to comment to the press on the repayment controversy. However, in response to queries from the council, Mr Kennedy said he made "an honest and genuine mistake".

Mr Kennedy, a barrister, unsuccessfully contested the Limerick East constituency in three general elections -- 1969, 1973 and 1977. In 1981, he was elected to the Seanad on the 'administrative panel'.

A Dail seat again eluded him in the February 1982 General Election, but he was successful in the Seanad elections in 1989. He was first elected to Limerick Corporation in 1991 before losing his Seanad seat in 1993.

Last year, he lost out on a Seanad seat when he contested the 'cultural and educational panel'.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News