SLIGO Borough Council spent a total of €210,000 in just two years on an investigation of bullying of staff by Independent Councillor Declan Bree, it has emerged.
One Councillor has claimed that the final bill could be as much as €400,000, after the Council's Audit Report outlined that €210,000 was spent in 2009/ 2010 in hiring a legal expert and consultant to carry out the investigation and in hiring another consultant, Declan Naughton, to monitor Borough Council meetings.
Commeting on the figure in the Audit Report for the year ended December 31st, 2010 by Local Government Auditor Mr. Raymond Lavin, Clr. Bree said at Monday night's meeting it was an "outrageous squandering of public monies".
He proposed a motion asking that all invoices and bills associated with the investigation be provided to the Council. While this motion was agreed, County Manager, Hubert Kearns, said he would have to take legal advice on it in respect of a potential conflict of interest on the part of Clr. Bree.
Councillor Macmanus hit out at the fact that while the €210,000 amounted to one per cent of the Council's Budget for 2010, members were only being informed of it fifteen months later. Meanwhile, Councillor Jim Mcgarry maintained that the final figure involved in the process could be closer to €400,000.
"There can be no excuse for paying out such sums to solicitors and consultants.," declared Clr. Bree.
The County Manager, however, launched a stinging attack on Clr. Bree and said he was the one responsible for what he term a "shocking" use of public monies. He added that Clr. Bree had been found to have bulllied staff and was the only public representative in Ireland to be investigated for bullying. Clr. Bree has always denied the bullying allegations.