Fresh 'inkgate' furore as public funds used to print anti-water charge leaflets
THE country's largest local authority has launched an investigation after two anti-water charges councillors racked up printing bills totalling €5,500.
Dublin City councillors John Lyons and Tina MacVeigh have been told they must pay back the expenditure, which council chiefs believe represent an "abuse of public funds".
The Irish Independent can reveal that the pair, who are members of the People Before Profit Alliance, printed 140,000 leaflets encouraging people to boycott water charges.
Mr Lyons is said to have printed 100,000 leaflets at a cost of €3,800, while Ms MacVeigh printed 40,000 leaflets and is facing a bill of €1,700.
Well-placed sources expressed their shock at the scale of the printing, which is unprecedented in the history of Dublin City Council.
"At this point, such a large amount of printing is being seen as an abuse of public funds," said a source close to the council.
Both Mr Lyons and Ms MacVeigh are prominent members of the Right 2 Water campaign and regularly attend demonstrations opposing the charges.
Mr Lyons previously labelled Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour Party and Green Party politicians as "cretins", "f***ers" and "parasites".
Ms MacVeigh, who is based in the Crumlin/Kimmage ward, is also an avid anti-water-charges protester.
She previously made headlines after she was involved in occupying the constituency office of Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne.
Both councillors at the centre of this latest 'inkgate' controversy took part in last night's march in Dublin over the jailing of five anti-water-charges protesters. When contacted by the Irish Independent, both representatives defended the level of printing.
"Printing is a facility provided to all councillors. This has never been an issue in the past. Facilities are provided to all of us so that we can carry out our duties on behalf of our constituents," Ms MacVeigh said.
Mr Lyons said he was "disappointed" that the issue of his printing activities has been "leaked to the media".
He told the Irish Independent: "Everything I have produced is council-related and is about issues pertinent to Dublin city."
People Before Profit Group leader Brid Smith said their representatives do not embark on council "junkets" or accept chairperson positions on committees.
It is understood that Dublin City Council Executive Manager Vincent Norton became aware of the scale of the printing by the two councillors after a tip-off.
The matter has recently been discussed at senior council level and both councillors received letters detailing the scale of the costs incurred.
Dublin City Council has now imposed a new rule limiting councillors to printing 2,000 leaflets a month.
Lord Mayor Christy Burke said he would attend a meeting between the councillors and council management next week.