Mon, Feb
0 New Articles

Flynn and Finn clash over expenses



Edwin McGreal

Two councillors who were at loggerheads at the annual general meeting of Mayo County Council last month renewed hostilities at yesterday’s (Monday) first monthly meeting of the new council since May’s local elections.
Fine Gael’s Peter Flynn and Independent Richard Finn clashed over expenses paid to councillors for working with outside bodies.
Cllr Flynn tabled a motion calling on details to be reported in the council’s annual report of any salary, allowances or travel costs received working on outside bodies like the Educational Training Board (ETB) and the HSE.
Flynn had accused the Fianna Fáil and Independent alliance of being more concerned with ‘cash and chains’ than progressive politics at the AGM. Finn hit out at this at the time, saying ‘I don’t want to hear anymore of that type of talk’.
Cllr Flynn said yesterday that people had asked him since his ‘cash and chains’ comment about what payments were available for councillors appointed by the council to the HSE and ETB. He said he could not find out all the information and suggested all payments and expenses to councillors be collated together.  
“It’s important when coming to an election that prospective candidates have a full picture of what may be available. We owe them that. We want to see the brightest and best. If people see you can earn €40,000 or €50,000, they might be more interested,” said Flynn.
He also expressed surprise that councillors were sitting on interview boards to select teachers for positions in schools in Mayo.
Acting Director of Services Liam Hanrahan said ‘there is full transparency’ and that the HSE and ETB publish their payments to members, including councillors, on their own websites. He said councillors take their responsibilities to declare payments ‘very seriously’.
“I fully appreciate that it is all above board. I am merely saying we should put it all together and make it available for people,” responded Cllr Flynn.
“The current procedure is more than sufficient and 100 percent transparent,” retorted Cllr Damien Ryan (Fianna Fáil) before Cllr Finn lashed out at Cllr Flynn.
“The people of this county elected the brightest and best, the people in this room. I take very seriously as a teacher of 20 years someone suggesting councillors are unfit to be on interview boards. I sat on boards. Anyone I sat on boards with were the finest of people and they wouldn’t be there otherwise.
“I remember when there were ten teachers on this council. Now there’s only one and the reason is there is no renumeration. Councillors were turned upside down by Minister Hogan. If all the work we were doing was added up, we wouldn’t even be getting the minimum wage,” said Cllr Finn.
Responding Cllr Flynn said he was only asking for ‘disclosure’ and that he said that he personally would not be qualified to sit on an interview board for a teaching position.