Thursday 14 December 2017

Former MEP 'paid long-time assistant €7.5k a year when up to €12.5k a month was available'

Former MEP Joe McCartin
Former MEP Joe McCartin

Tim Healy

Former MEP Joe McCartin never told his parliamentary assistant of 20 years he could get up to €12,500 a month from the EU towards her salary when he was only paying her around €7,500 a year, it was claimed in the High Court.

Martina McManus claims Mr McCartin, who retired as a Fine Gael MEP in 2004, unlawfully diverted some of the monthly allowance he applied for to others who did not actually assist him.

Ms McManus, who worked in Mr McCartin's local office in Newtowngore, Co Leitrim,  also says he never informed the European Parliament she was his assistant when he applied for the allowance.

She says he told the parliament "several other persons" were his MEP assistants and made monthly claims in their favour.  She says that apart from her, he only had one other full-time assistant who was based in Brussels and/or Strasbourg.

She is suing him for breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit.  She wants a declaration he unlawfully diverted EU monies for the benefit of those not entitled to them.

Mr McCartin emphatically denies the claims which his lawyer says are "scandalous".   He says she was fully paid for the work she did, he says.

Today, High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns granted Ms McManus' lawyers an order requesting the European Parliament to provide her with the names of the people in whose favour he drew down the allowance between 1984 and 2004.   It is claimed the parliament has documents which were submitted by Mr McCartin who is unlikely to still have those full records.

The application was opposed by counsel for Mr McCartin on the grounds it was premature as no defence to the claims has yet been entered.   The facts in this case are at issue as to whether Ms McManus was his assistant for the duration of the time she claims, counsel said.

Mr Justice Kearns said he had no hesitation in granting the order sought by Ms McManus particularly as there was a similar order granted last year in relation to claims over pensions for two other MEPs' assistants.  

Earlier, Eileen Barrington SC, for Ms McManus, from Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, said in 2004 an MEP could claim up to €12,500 per month for parliamentary assistance.  Ms McManus was paid around €7,500 in her last year (2004).

Ms McManus did not know about about what was available until she read about it, counsel said.

Her solicitors wrote to Mr McCartin's lawyers asking for the names of people who benefited from the allowance but were only told they (McManus side) would be put on full proofs about their allegations.

As a result, the application was brought seeking court approval to write to the President of the European Parliament requesting the information.

Ms McManus is also seeking a declaration that monies allegedly unlawfully diverted are held on trust for her. 

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