Councillor John Brady said "Unfortunately again Bray Town Council feels the need to send Councillors and officials thousands of miles across the Atlantic to celebrate St. Patrick's Day rather than stay at home with the people they claim to represent. I remain totally unconvinced of any benefits to come out of spending thousands of euro of public money on sending Councillors to go sight seeing in California or San Francisco".
"This has turned into an annual event for Bray Town Council with many Councillors travelling a number of times. I have consistently asked for a full report to be given on what benefits have stemmed from sending a number of Councillors and the Town Clerk to California last year, however it has proven near impossible to get. The Local Government Act deals with foreign travel by Councillors and section 142 (5) states that a full report should be given on all conferences and foreign travel. This is not just to show what benefits came from the trip but it allows for informed decisions to be made on subsequent travel. So without any reports from previous travel its impossible to justify fancy trips abroad for St. Patrick's Day". continued Brady
Brady continued "Following many requests i eventually got an itinerary of last years trip by four Councillors and the Town Clerk to California. Based on this i can see no merits in wasting any taxpayers money in sending any Councillors or officials outside the state for St. Patrick's Day. The report basically shows the number of dinners, breakfasts the Councillors enjoyed last year at the tax payers expense along with sightseeing trips to San Francisco. I have been told that this years trip will be the same as last years one, so i think these Councillors would be better off staying at home and investing the money on meaningful community projects or better still trying to create local jobs".
Bray Sinn Féin representative Oliver O'Brien said "I wouldn't blame any member of the public thinking this was a junket aimed at basically giving the Chairperson, another Councillor and an official a fancy holiday to Americas west coast, something most ordinary people can only dream of. I challenge any Councillor to show me just one benefit or better still one job from any of these fancy trips at our expense. Many traders are struggling to pay Rates, but i am sure they are delighted to see where their money is going, as are the tenants of the council who have seen their rents shoot up by nearly 30% recently".
Councillor Brady concluded "Unfortunately Bray Town Council wont be the only local authority sending Councillors abroad again this year, Wicklow County Council will also be sending a number of people abroad. This is bound to stick in the craw of people right across Bray and Wicklow. Its no wonder people have little faith in politicians, we have thousands still unemployed and thousands more struggling to pay mortgages and to keep a roof over their heads. But in the midst of all this politicians are busy packing their sun cream and jetting away to drink green beer thousands of miles away in California on St. Patrick's Day". Ends
Below is the report from the 2013 St. Patrick's Day trip to California, which was attended by four Councillors and one official.
Thursday 14 March 13
Flight to San Francisco overnight in San Francisco Friday 15 March travel to Dublin meet host families
Friday 7 pm Green and White Gala hosted by Dublin Sister City Association Televised event on ABC Bay Area TV interview with Cathaoirleach Tracy O'Brien. Formal speeches, presentation to Dublin Sister City Association meeting Congressman Eric Swalwell, members of Chamber of Commerce
8 am Pancake Breakfast Dublin City Fire Station sponsored by Alameda County Firefighters
9.30 am to 12.30 am Dublin Lions Club St Patrick’s Day Parade
1 pm lunch at Dublin Civic Center hosted by City of Dublin
2 pm to 5 pm attendance at St Patrick’s Festival at Dublin Civic Center hosted by City of Dublin formal speeches and presentation to Deputy Mayor
7 pm Corn Beef and Cabbage Fundraising dinner at St Raymond's Parish 10 pm Reception at home of Carole Satterthwaite President of Dublin Sister City Association
Sunday 17th March
8.30 Shamrock 5 Km fun run
11. 00 Brunch at home of host family
1 pm visit to Concannon Winery St Patrick's day celebration, meeting with owners Lunch for host families
7 pm farewell event hosted by Shirley and Louie Noval
Travel to San Francisco afternoon sightseeing