Tuesday 26 September 2017

It's hungry work - anger at lack of food in council meetings

Outburst: Cllr Mary Freehill. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Outburst: Cllr Mary Freehill. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ryan Nugent

A Labour councillor has launched a remarkable outburst about the lack of food available to her and colleagues when attending meetings.

The row broke out among Dublin City councillors after one slammed offerings for full area meetings, insisting: "Loaves and fishes didn't work".

Cold food, mainly sandwiches and biscuits are available to councillors at meetings.

But Labour councillor Mary Freehill said that there were only 15 plates of food available on the night to cater for 63 local representatives from Dublin city.

"If you ever had a case of loaves and fishes, well the loaves and fishes didn't work," she said.

"I can't understand why we are continuously treated in this way by the council when we consider the standards that are available to staff up in the canteen and this is an ongoing situation," she added.

The councillor said she had referred the issue to the DCC Protocol Committee "several times".

Former Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh hit back and said "there are far more important things that we should be discussing".

However, Independent councillor Mannix Flynn backed Cllr Freehill - insisting that there is a vast difference between what is available to councillors at City Hall and to TDs in Dáil Éireann.

"There's been a huge issue with food in the city council," he said.

"For all the work that we do here, we're given ridiculous biscuits which are just pretty disgusting.

"We don't get half the food that the full employees get in DCC."

The council is now reviewing the provision of food prior to council meetings, although it says that for tax reasons it can only provide cold food.

In an email sent to representatives, it said: "As you know due to tax implications (benefit in kind) we are unable to provide hot food and are therefore restricted to cold items such as salads and sandwiches.

"Can you please let me know if you would prefer a salad or sandwich so we can determine how much to order to ensure that everyone's needs are met.

"Furthermore, can you please indicate if you have any specific health-related dietary requirements which we will do our best to accommodate."

Last year it was revealed that DCC spent more than €3.5m on food and drink over a five-year period.

Irish Independent

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