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Meath County Manager has shown a serious error of judgement in failing to declare a conflict of interest

13 June, 2005


Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Reilly said that the failure of Meath County Manager to declare a conflict of interest in the appointment of a former member of Meath County Council as tourist office administrator and assistant to the manager of the new arts threatre was a serious error of judgement. Councillor Reilly will be putting a motion to Meath County Council calling for public representatives to be appointed to the Board of Meath Arts Centre Company Ltd and for procedures to be put in place to ensure that such a situation will not arise in the future.

Councillor Reilly said:

"Over the last number of weeks I have raised a number of very serious questions with the County Manager and at Navan Town Council regarding the appointment of a former member of Meath County Council as tourist office administrator in the new Meath Arts Centre. I put a series of questions to the County Manager and also met with him in person in recent weeks.

"It is my firm belief, having carefully examined the matter, that this appointment raises a number of serious concerns with regard to decisions taken by the County Manager:

He set up the Meath Arts Centre Company but no public representatives were appointed to its Board. The appointment of public representatives to such bodies is normal practice.

He unilaterally accepted the recommendation that former councillor Alison Boyle be appointed, as tourist office administrator by Meath Arts Centre Company instead of bringing the matter to the Board as is normal practice.

At no time did the County Manager state that he had a conflict of interest in this matter due to his personal relationship with the individual who was appointed to the position.

The County Manager should not have been involved in this appointment when there was a blatant conflict of interest. The appointment should have been dealt with by the Board of the Meath Arts Centre Company and not by one individual member. There should have been public scrutiny of the process through the involvement of public representatives.

The people of Navan and Meath need to have complete confidence in Meath County Council and in all of the workings of the Council. There is a need for accountability and transparency in how it operates. And there is a need for procedures to be put in place to ensure that this situation can never happen again. It is also important that councillors, as public representatives, are alert to these issues and not let a blind eye culture develop.

The Arts Theatre will be an important addition to the cultural life of Meath and it is important that it gets the best possible start. I will continue to scrutinize the workings of the Council and ensure that it works in the best interests of all of the people of Meath."ENDS

Councillor Reilly will be placing a motion on the clar of the July meeting of Meath County Council asking that a number of public representatives be immediately appointed to the Board of Meath Arts Centre Company Ltd. He will also be asking for procedures to be put in place to deal with any situation where the County Manager or any other senior council official has a conflict of interest.

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