€700 expenses for Limerick politician to attend pointless meeting

A LIMERICK city councillor was paid almost €700 in expenses to attend a HSE meeting which cannot even make a decision.

Meetings of the Regional Health Forum West have cost the taxpayer an average of €8,600 per meeting in members expenses alone, not counting expenses and wages for HSE staff.


And there has been strong criticism of the practice of dragging members and HSE staff from as far away as West Clare and Donegal for what amounts to a question and answer session with the questions being asked in writing in advance and answered in writing on the day.

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According to HSE figures, Limerick city councillor Joe Leddin (Lab) was paid €694.08 in mileage and overnight expenses for attending the September 2012 meeting, which was held in Manorhamilton.

The next highest average payment for meetings went to Limerick county councillor Damien Riedy (FG) who was paid an average of €498 expenses per meeting.

Members are paid according to how far they travel to attend and Cllr Leddin told the Limerick Post that the size of his payment relates to the fact that he had just been co-opted at the end of 2012 and the particular meeting was in Leitrim.

“The meeting goes on all day and it because it was so far away there was an overnight. Other meetings are held in Galway and with average expenses for that drive at around €120, there’s no financial benefit but the advantage of attending is that we can discuss the answers we get and ask further questions”.

However, he concedes that the way the meetings are organised “is all wrong.

“There is no reason on earth why people from Limerick should have to go all the way to Leitrim to listen to discussions about hospitals and the health service up there and vice versa. It would be much better to revert to the old arrangement where local members met locally, did their business and were out in an hour at a fraction of the cost.

“With all of the reform of local government that is coming in now, it should be possible to reform the organisation of the HSE Forum as well”.

Members of the Forum have no say in making changes or forming legislation in the health services and some former members from the Mid West resigned because they believed it represented bad value for money.

Above: Limerick city councillor Joe Leddin.