‘Ethics’ reminder for councillors following free rugby tickets offer

Galway City Tribune – City councillors were this week reminded of their ethical responsibilities with regard receiving gifts, after Connacht Rugby invited elected members to attend the Sportsground for the club’s crunch clash with Cardiff Blues.

The Ethics Officer at City Hall issued a circular to councillors after it emerged that Connacht had offered tickets to them to attend the final match of the season this Saturday.

The invite to the match was issued by Karl Boyle, Head of Operations at Connacht Rugby, last week.

It was sent in the same email, which thanked councillors for making the Sportsground redevelopment project a ‘top priority’ in an application for Government grants of up to €30 million.

Following that decision, but separate to it, the Planning Department at City Hall gave the go-ahead to the new stadium at College Road. City councillors have no say in the planning application process.

One councillor who received the invite, rang the Council to clarify if accepting the ticket to the match was ‘above board’.

That prompted Ethics Officer, Fiona Kearney, to write to all councillors reminding them of their ethical responsibilities.

“I would like to remind councillors of their responsibilities under the Local Government Act, 2001, Section 170 (1) “An employee or member of a local authority or a committee of a local authority shall not seek, exact or accept from any person, other than from the local authority concerned, any remuneration, fee, reward or other favour for anything done or not done by virtue of his or her employment or office, and a Code of Conduct under Section 169 may include guidance for the purpose of this subsection.”

It is understood some councillors had responded accepting tickets before the Ethics Officer issued her advice.

Speaking to the Galway City Tribune, Mr Boyle said Connacht had invited many people – not just councillors – to the Cardiff game, including Special Olympics athletes, who will be recognised at half-time.
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