Thursday 20 June 2019

Spending on chauffeur-driven car for city mayor branded 'wasteful'

Mayor Niall McNelis says the car helps him ‘sell the city’
Mayor Niall McNelis says the car helps him ‘sell the city’

Gordon Deegan

Spending on a chauffeur- driven car for the mayor of the "gridlocked" city of Galway has been described as "very wasteful and wholly unnecessary".

Cllr Mark Lohan, a Sinn Féin member of Galway City Council, made his comments as the closing date for receipt of tenders for the provision of a new mayoral car service is today.

Figures provided by the council show that over four years between 2014 to 2017 in the existing contract, the council paid out €234,532 - or €58,633 per year on average - for the mayoral car service.

"To spend around €280,000-€290,000 over the past five years for the chauffeured mayoral car in a small little gridlocked city is very wasteful and wholly unnecessary," said Mr Lohan said.

"The spend on a new chauffeured mayoral car would buy a good council house."

In the new tender, the city council looks for a supplier to provide an "executive-type" car worth €35,000 or more.

The current Labour mayor, Cllr Niall McNelis, would not be drawn on the cost of the service as he said the tender process is still live.

Mr McNelis said he had attended more than 1,500 functions and events over the past year "and I wouldn't have been able to do that without the mayoral car service. It helps me sell the city".

Mr McNelis is chauffeured to official events in a Ford Mondeo Vignale hybrid and he said the service he has enjoyed has been "extremely professional and courteous".

Even though Galway City Council's budget is a fraction of that of the likes of Dublin or Cork councils, the figures show it is spending substantially more on its mayoral car.

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said the Lord Mayor's car has been sponsored for a number of years, currently by Volvo Ireland.

"There is no cost for the provision of the car. Dublin City Council pays the tax and insurance costs, any maintenance required during the year and all fuel costs," she said.

Cork City Council confirmed its mayoral car is sponsored by Ford. A spokesman for Limerick City and County Council stated it has a three-year lease agreement with Brian Geary's garage for the supply of a mayor's car.

Irish Independent

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