SIPO finds former councillor breached legislation in travel expenses claims

padraig doherty

SIPO, the Standards in Public Office Commission, has found that a former Donegal Councillor wrongly claimed travel expenses from Donegal County Council and Udaras na Gaeltachta, in contravention of the Ethical Framework for the Local Government Service and the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001.

The investigation hearing into the claims against former Councillor Pádraig Dohertywas held on the 12th of last month.

The Standards Commission found that Mr Doherty attended the Association of County and City Councils’ Annual Conference 2007 in March of that year in the Park Hotel, Dubgarvan.her claimed travelling expenses from Údarás na Gaeltachta, and later also claimed travel and subsistence expenses from Donegal County Council in respect of his attendance at the same Conference.

SIPO also found that Mr Doherty claimed travel expenses from Donegal County Council in respect of his attendance at the Irish Central Border Area Network Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk on November 20th, 2008, and later also claiming travel and subsistence expenses in respect of a meeting of Údarás na Gaeltachta in Furbo, County Galway the following day.

The Commission found that Mr Doherty was not entitled to make separate claims for his journeys from home to Dundalk and then from home to Furbo and that he should have made a claim to Donegal County Council for his journey from home to Dundalk and then made a claim to Údarás na Gaeltachta for journeys from Dundalk to Furbo and from Furbo to his home.

SIPO says he claimed an overnight subsistence allowance from Údarás in respect of the Furbo meeting, but had not stayed overnmight.

SIPO has ruled that each of the contraventions was committed recklessly and it was, in all the circumstances, a serious matter.

The Commission has sent its report to Mr Doherty, to County Manager Seamus Neely and to Councillor John Campbell, the Caithorleach of Donegal County Council.

Copies have also been sent to Ministers Brendan Howlin and Phil Hogan.

 

The SIPO statement in full -

Standards in Public Office Commission

Press Statement - Investigation Report by the Standards in Public Office Commission

The Standards Commission has today published its investigation report about alleged contraventions of the Ethical Framework for the Local Government Service (Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001) and the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 by former Councillor Pádraig Doherty, Donegal County Council. The report follows an investigation hearing held on 12 May 2014.

The Standards Commission found that Mr Doherty contravened sections 168 and 169(3) of the Local Government Act 2001, acted in disregard of provisions of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and did a 'specified act' within the meaning of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 by claiming travelling expenses from Údarás na Gaeltachta in respect of his attendance at the Association of County and City Councils’ Annual Conference 2007 at The Park Hotel, Dungarvan, County Waterford on 8, 9 and 10 March 2007 and later also claiming travelling and subsistence expenses in respect of attendance at the same Conference from Donegal County Council.

The Standards Commission also found that Mr Doherty contravened sections 168 and 169(3) of the Local Government Act 2001, acted in disregard of provisions of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and did a 'specified act' within the meaning of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 by claiming travelling expenses from Donegal County Council in respect of his attendance at the Irish Central Border Area Network Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk, County Louth on 20 November 2008 and later also claiming travelling and subsistence expenses in respect of attendance at a meeting of Údarás na Gaeltachta in Furbo, County Galway on 21 November 2008. The Commission found that Mr Doherty was not entitled to make separate claims for his journeys from home to Dundalk and then from home to Furbo and that he should have made a claim to Donegal County Council for his journey from home to Dundalk and then made a claim to Údarás na Gaeltachta for journeys from Dundalk to Furbo and from Furbo to his home.

The Standards Commission also found that Mr Doherty contravened sections 168 and 169(3) of the Local Government Act 2001, acted in disregard of provisions of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and did a 'specified act' within the meaning of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 by claiming an overnight subsistence allowance from Údarás na Gaeltachta in respect of his attendance at meeting of Údarás na Gaeltachta in Furbo, County Galway on 21 November 2008 when he had not availed of accommodation to justify the claim.

The Standards Commission found that each of the contraventions was committed recklessly and was, in all the circumstances, a serious matter. The Commission also found that Mr Doherty did not act in good faith in relation to each of the contraventions.

The Commission has sent its report to Mr Doherty, to Mr Seamus Neely, Chief Executive, Donegal County Manager and Councillor John Campbell, Mayor, Donegal County Council (whose predecessors made the complaint to the Standards Commission) and also to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and to the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government.

In his letter to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the Commission Chairperson, Mr Daniel O'Keeffe, informed him that the Commission is concerned at the scope for abuse by persons making such claims to more than one public body and has requested that he give consideration to putting in place arrangements across the public service for cooperation by public bodies in ensuring that only the appropriate amounts within the relevant regulations are paid in response to claims by persons to more than one body in respect of the same period.

The investigation report, together with full details of the Standards Commission's findings and determinations, is available on the Commission's website - www.sipo.gov.ie

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone : (01) 6395666
Fax : (01) 6395684
E-Mail: sipo@sipo.gov.ie
Website: www.sipo.gov.ie
Twitter:  @SIPOCIreland