SENDING representatives of Shannon Town Council to the US is a waste of money, according to Sinn Féin’s Cathy McCafferty.
In a statement this week, she criticised sending people to the St Patrick’s Day parade in Union County in New Jersey.
“Clare County Council, with 32 members representing the entire county, sent just two representatives to New York for St Patrick’s Day. To his credit, the Mayor of Clare paid his own expenses. Yet here you have a town council of nine members and just two officials paying three people to travel.
“Those who continue to vote for this junket claim that there is a return in that members of the Emerald Society occasionally come to Ireland for their holidays. Of course they do, they are people who are very proud of their Irish roots.
“I believe that this self-serving argument should be put to the test by an independent and fair-minded person.”
She was also critical of town council officials travelling to France for a town-twinning event and said public expenditure has to be looked at very carefully.
“For two years in-a-row I tabled motions calling for commercial rates to be reduced, yet the business community are still charged the same rates as in boom times. Meanwhile, the ordinary citizens of this country are being led by a Government that has said it will continue to pour billions into private banks, while forcing all of us to suffer the effects of their austerity measures.
“At times like this, I believe it is immoral for politicians and unelected officials to maintain a system of privileges and entitlements paid for by the working people, the poor and the ratepayers of this country.
“By bringing this to public attention, I hope the good people of Clare can bring pressure to bear on those who continue to spend their money wastefully.”
At the February meeting of the town council, a debate on the issue of sending representatives to America took place, with members voting in favour of travelling for the festivities.
During the debate, Councillor Sean McLoughlin said Shannon is brought to a lot of people’s attention through its representation at the parade. “The publicity we get out there on the day of the parade and before it is something you can’t put a value on.”
He also said that all the council would be paying for is the flights of those travelling.