Sunday 13 October 2019

Councillors defend €10,000 photoshoot in lavish stately home

Socialist Party councillors Clare Daly, Matthew Waine and Ruth Coppinger pose for an official photograph in Newbridge House, Co Dublin
Socialist Party councillors Clare Daly, Matthew Waine and Ruth Coppinger pose for an official photograph in Newbridge House, Co Dublin
The 24 members of Fingal County Council line up for their photograph

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

YOU'VE heard of champagne socialists -- now meet the chandelier socialists.

Socialist Party councillors have defended posing for photos in a lavish drawing room of one of the country's finest stately homes -- but said they had no idea it cost the taxpayer almost €10,000.

Three socialist party councillors were part of a Fingal County Council photoshoot in Newbridge House in Dublin last year.

The shots were taken in the 'Red Room' -- decked out with period paintings and chandeliers -- of the Georgian mansion, built in 1736, and all 24 Fingal councillors took part.

A professional photographer hired for the day took shots of the entire council, councillors in each electoral ward and each political party on the council.

The photoshoot took place last July, following the local elections in June, and Fingal County Council then stuck the pictures up in nine libraries, as well as the county hall in Swords and civic offices in Blanchardstown.

The total cost of taking the pictures, and putting 32 framed shots up in the 11 buildings, came to €9,471.

The group shot of all 24 councillors was put up in each building, as well as a shot of the councillors from the electoral ward the building is situated in.

Three councillors from the Socialist Party -- Clare Daly, Matthew Waine and Ruth Coppinger -- were happy to take part, and Ms Daly last night defended the photos. However, she said she had no idea of the cost, which she admitted was "a whack-load of money".

She also said the use of the stately home had been justified.


"It is a public building, it is a historic building owned by the people," Ms Daly said when asked if it was ironic for socialists to be photographed in the mansion.

"I had no idea of the cost of it. I did query at the time why we were up there and where the photographer who usually took photos for the council was."

She said it was normal practice for a new photo to be taken after elections, and said the shots would be used in council material in future. "On what basis would you refuse to partake in that?"

A Dublin-based photographer, Larry McMahon, was commissioned to take the pictures and the councillors were given the option of buying the pictures for their own personal use.

The council said the Red Room in Newbridge was chosen because it was the "jewel in the crown" of the county's buildings.

"The Red Room is one of the very few original and authentic Georgian drawing rooms in Ireland," the council said.

"The decision to prominently display the photographs in our public libraries and offices is on the basis of promoting local democracy and information to as wide a range of members of the public as possible."

Irish Independent

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