FG man pays back d1,690 after probe on expenses

Barry Duggan

A FINE Gael councillor has repaid a council €1,690 which he claimed in travel expenses to conferences while his car was off the road.

Former Senator Pat Kennedy repaid the money to Limerick City Council last year after his expenses claims was examined by senior management within the authority.

Mr Kennedy has repeatedly been contacted in recent weeks about the issue, but has refused to comment.

A freedom of information request obtained shows that Mr Kennedy repaid €1,690.65 to Limerick City Council by cheque in April 2010.

Earlier that month, acting head of finance Pat Murnane contacted the Fine Gael councillor after Mr Kennedy had declared that his 2002-registered Mercedes was off the road due to a road accident in 2009.

Mr Kennedy had declared that his vehicle was not in use from October 1, 2009, through to March 31, 2010, but he claimed travel expenses citing the vehicle's use to five conferences and seminars in February and March 2010.

At the time, his car was in a garage being repaired following the accident on October 15, 2009.

Mr Kennedy informed Limerick City Council that his Mercedes was off the road for six months as liability was not admitted by the insurance company of a person involved in the accident.

He said a replacement vehicle, which he used for transport "to fulfil engagements away from Limerick" was changed on a number of occasions by the rental company.

He claimed travel expenses for conferences in Dublin, Dundalk, Tipperary, Sligo and a climate change seminar in Dublin.

A week after Limerick City Council queried Mr Kennedy's expenses claim, Mr Murnane informed the councillor that the local authority wanted the money refunded -- unless he could provide correct details on the vehicle used by him to travel to the conferences.

Mr Kennedy choose not to provide any other car details and repaid the money on April 20 last year.