Council review backs Kelly's account of expenses
Cavan County Council has backed the cathaoirleach's assertion his expenses were in order for two conferences queried by a recent RTÉ investigation.
The national broadcaster had raised apparent issues with some of Cllr Clifford Kelly's claims as part of a wider feature on councillors' expenses nationally. The matter prompted the Kingscourt native, who had only taken chain of office in June, to approach Cavan County to conduct a review of the matter.
The Anglo-Celt had asked for an update of the status of the review of Cllr Clifford Kelly's expenses; who conducted it and if its findings would be made public? The council didn't respond to individual questions, but rather outlined: 'Cavan County Council has reviewed the submission of claims by Cllr Kelly in respect of two conferences in 2017 and 2018. In both cases, Cllr Kelly certified his attendance at these events and appropriate distances from his place of private residence to both venues were submitted.'
Meanwhile, in the course of a Q&A with Cllr Kelly, the Celt asked the Kingscourt man if he feels he has done anything wrong with regards to his expenses. The cathaoirleach replied: “No, and I have contacted Cavan County Council regarding this issue.”
The Celt asked if he will request the details and findings of Cavan Council’s review into this issue are made public?
“I have no issue with transparency in this matter,” he assured.
The matters concerned his attendance at the LAMA Autumn Training Seminar in Tipperary in September 2017; and also the AILG Annual Training Conference in Dungarvan in April 2018. On both occasions he travelled south on the Thursday (September 28, 2017) and (Thursday, April 12, 2018), only to realise, due to a “diary oversight” on both occasions, he had already committed to participating in interview panels for DKIT in Dundalk on the Saturdays.
On both occasions Cllr Kelly insists he arose at 5am on the Saturdays and drove up to Dundalk for the interviews and then returned to the conference/seminar venues in the afternoon.
The Celt asked Clr Kelly, why did he put in his expenses he travelled from Kingscourt for the interview panel, when he travelled from Tipperary in 2017; and Dungarvan 2018?
“I did not claim any expenses for the additional return journeys undertaken from Tipperary or Dungarvan on either occasion as it was due to my own diary oversight. I returned to my home in Kingscourt on both occasions to collect the documentation for the interviews before travelling to DKIT.”
As to why he didn't request the interview panels organisers to instead use a substitute interviewer, he says: “It was too late at night when I realised the situation and I needed to return to Kingscourt the next morning to collect the relevant paperwork.”
Is it plausible to have made the same “diary management” error for very similar events in successive years?
“It was a diary management oversight that occurred. I am a member of numerous boards for various bodies and it is unfortunate that the diary oversight took place on both occasions but, as per my statement, I attended all events for which I claimed expenses for. At no stage did I claim for the additional journeys I undertook in order to fulfil the conflicting commitments.”