Kinsella defends his €50,000 in expenses
ATTENDED CONFERENCE IN DONEGAL WHEN ONE ON SIMILAR TOPIC WAS BEING HELD IN BUNCLODY
NORTH Wexford Councillor Michael Kinsella has defended his expenses claims record during 2011, after figures revealed he claimed the highest amount of expenses in Wexford at €50,891 for the year.
He also claimed the second highest amount for travelling expenses in the country, claiming €5,041 for several trips, including London, New York and Wales. The Councillor also had to defend attending a conference in Donegal, when a similarlythemed conference was held in Bunclody on the same weekend.
Cllr. Kinsella pointed out that he was Chairman of the County Council in 2011, which explained why his expenses were over €19,000 higher than the average €31,641 claimed by his fellow councillors.
During his time as Chairman, he attended the St. Patrick's Day event in New York and the London Wexford Association dinner, as well as an event in Pembrokeshire in Wales. 'Once a year, the heads of neighbouring counties are invited to a dinner in Pembroke,' he said. ' There's a long history of contact between Wexford and Pembroke.'
'I didn't want to go to New York and I said I wasn't going, but the County Wexford Association of New York insisted that somebody would represent Wexford,' he added. 'I was the only Councillor that went. It behoves us to send out people on St. Patrick's Day. I think it's an absolute necessity to market our country for jobs and tourism and it's the cheapest form of advertising we can get.'
'As Chairman of the Council, there is a Chairman's allowance,' he said. 'It's well paid, I will admit that, but the Chairman's allowance is nearly 50 per cent in tax. My net income was nearly €2,800 a month while Chairman.'
As for conference expenses, he said that Wexford has one of the lowest conference expenses in the country. 'Our conference allowance for the year is €2,250,' he said. 'About 50 per cent of that is used in any given year.'
He said he got a text about the conference on in Donegal called 'Local Governance Training Seminar: Local Authority Budgets 2012', and decided to go as he was interested in the topic. He wasn't aware there was a conference titled ' Training Seminar for Councillors: The Local Government Budget 2012' in Bunclody on the same weekend in November 2011.
The Bunclody event appears to have been better advertised in Donegal, as five councillors from there travelled down for it, instead of attending their local one in the North West.
Cllr Kinsella said he would have attended the Bunclody event instead, had he known about it. 'Of course I would have gone to it,' he said. 'We're administering a budget of over €100 million. When you go to a budget meeting on the Council, at first you're very green and the only way you learn is by asking others and the conference was absolutely excellent.'
He pointed out that the distance was of no benefit as it just ate up his conference allowance. 'If you want to go to something else during the year, you won't have the money to do it,' he commented.
'I'm a full time County Councillor,' he pointed out. 'I'm available 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Even if you're out in the evening, you're public property. I drive a nine-year-old car and I live in a rented house and I struggle to pay the bills every month like everybody else.'
The other Wexford County Councillors' expenses as revealed in Saturday's Irish Independent were as follows:
Enniscorthy: Walsh, Oliver (FG) €40,935; Kavanagh, Patrick (FF) €40,122; Cody, Pat (Lab) €29,062; Doyle, Keith (FF) €27,900; Codd Nolan, Kathleen (FG) €24,136
Gorey: Kinsella, Michael (FG) €50,891; Hegarty, John (FG) €30,721; MacPartlin, Declan (Ind) €28,129; Ireton, Robert (Lab) €26,788; Byrne, Malcolm (FF) €26,187
New Ross: O'Brien, Larry (FG) €35,673; Kennedy, Denis (FG) €35,281; Sheehan, Michael (FF) €31,117; Murphy, Martin (FF) €30,163
Wexford: Lawlor, George (Lab) €33,029; Codd, Pat (FG) €32,033; Howlin, Ted (Lab) €30,315; Reck, Padge (Ind) €29,887; Fenlon, Anna (FG) €27,213; Dempsey, Tony (FG) €26,680; Moore, Jim (FG) €26,200