Council's big spend in Big Apple
Promotional trip by councillor and official cost almost €9,000
Two Wexford County Council officials spent almost €9,000 on a six day trip to New York - including €600 on a lunch - to promote the county during the city's St Patrick's Day festivities.
Former vice chairperson of the local authority Cllr Barbara Anne Murphy travelled with Senior Executive Officer and Head of Communications and Customer Service David Minogue to New York on March 14 arriving that evening at their 4 star hotel. They spent four days attending functions and meetings across the city, with one rest day on March 18, before flying home on March 20. The cost of hotel rooms for Cllr Murphy and Mr Minogue came to €2,278 in total.
The trip was organised by a travel agent who was paid €106 for booking flights which cost €747 each. The council representatives spent €774 on 'subsistence' each and €274 in total on taxi fares.
€285 was spent on dinner with the New York Wexford Association and a whopping €600 was spent on tickets to an Ireland-US Council luncheon.
€105 was spent on gifts which were presented by Cllr Murphy to Sarah Fanning and Mick Dunbar of the New York Wexford Association.
€140 was claimed in travel expenses for the return trips from Wexford to Dublin Airport, along with €42 for airport parking and €2,000 on marketing services procured for the New York itinerary. The total cost of the trip came to €8,872.
Mr Minogue said the Ireland-US Council luncheon is an annual fundraiser for the body, adding that the ticket price reflects the fundraising nature of the event.
He said: 'Wexford County Council was happy to support the work of the Council through the attendance of the Leas-Cathaoirleach and myself. The purpose of this Council is to build business links between America and Ireland. It was started by American and Irish business leaders. In pursuit of its aim, the council hosts frequent events in Ireland and in the United States. The Council also operates a variety of scholarship and student internship programs, stages occasional seminars and, from time to time, undertakes various publishing initiatives in national business media in the United States to promote closer commercial connections between Ireland and America. The Council seeks also to focus on activities that will develop communications, dialogue and improved understanding between leaders in business and government on both sides of the Atlantic.'
Upon returning from the trip in March, Cllr Murphy presented councillors with a diary style account of her and Mr Minogue's visit to New York. In the six page document circulated to councillors and the press, the Bunclody woman outlined, in 19 timelined entries, the various events both she and Mr Minogue attended during the six day trip.
Included are her departure (in an economy class Aer Lingus flight as she describes), to telephone calls made to Sarah Fanning and Mick Dunbar of the New York Wexford Association), to finalising arrangements for the St Patrick's Day parade following a meeting with the New York Wexford Association.
A book launch was attended, along with an Ireland US Council luncheon and a St Patrick's Day reception. St Patrick's Day was hectic, and included attending Mass at 8 a.m., meetings and a dinner post parade. The following day was a rest day, followed by her attending a meeting of executives of IDA Ireland in which both she and Mr Minogue have a brief presentation on the council's economic and community investment programme entitled `Our Ambition Your Future' - drawing particular attention to the M11 Business Campus in Gorey, advance technology buildings in New Ross, the Enniscorthy Business & Technology Park and Trinity Wharf in Wexford town. A meeting of Tourism Ireland executives was attended, along with a meeting with hotelier John Fitzpatrick during which he said he would visit with Wexford councillors in his context as an Ambassador for Wexford, before both left the San Carlos Hotel by taxi and returned (`economy class') on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin.