Politics

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Former councillor criticised by watchdog over double expenses claim

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

Published 17/06/2014 | 12:19

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Former councillor Padraig Doherty
Padraig Doherty

A FORMER councillor has been found guilty of double claiming expenses by the Government standards watchdog.

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Padraig Doherty, who lost his seat on Donegal County Council in the local elections last month, was criticised by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) for behaving “recklessly” in claiming expenses he shouldn’t have done.

The findings came following an investigation into expenses he claimed in 2007 and 2008.

SIPO found the former Fine Gael councillor, who ran as an independent last month, did not act in good faith in relation to each of the contraventions.

Mr Doherty had admitted contraventions of the Local Government Act and Ethics in Public Office Acts during a hearing earlier this year, but insisted these had been “unintentional” and “inadvertent”.

One of the findings published today relates to Mr Doherty’s attendance of the Association of County and City Councils’ Annual conference in Dungarvan, Co Waterford between March 8 and March 10, 2007.

SIPO heard that Cllr Doherty claimed travel and subsistence expenses totalling €1,021 from Donegal County Council for attending the event.

However, he also claimed expenses totalling €1,032.75 from Udaras na Gaeltachta for going to the same conference.

He repaid the council in full in 2011 after reviewing his expenses claims.

A second complaint centred on Mr Doherty’s attendance at a conference and a meeting of Udaras on consecutive days.

Mr Doherty claimed mileage and subsistence of €295 for attended the Irish Central Border Area Network Conference in Dundalk, Co Louth, on November 20, 2008 and returned home that night.

However, he also claimed overnight expenses for attending a meeting of Udaras na Gaeltachta in Furbo, Co Galway the following day, when he did not avail of accommodation to justify the claim.

He later amended the claim and there was no financial loss to the council.

SIPO does not have the power to impose any sanctions on Mr Doherty.

A copy of its report has been forwarded to Donegal County Council, Environment Minister Phil Hogan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

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