€2,600 on new phones for councillors... and we pay
FOURTEEN councillors in Dun Laoghaire have received new smartphones that have cost nearly €2,600 of public money.
Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council offered the politicians a choice of three models and the vast majority have so far opted for the more expensive iPhone 4.
To date, 11 councillors have received the Apple product, two chose the Samsung Ace and one local representative selected the Samsung i9001.
Cllr Hugh Lewis, who received the Samsung Ace, told the Herald his handset only cost €40 but the iPhone came with a price tag of well over €200.
He was not against councillors getting smartphones, but thinks the iPhone was too expensive.
"I don't know why the public wouldn't want councillors having smartphones. It makes my job a hell of a lot easier having email on the go," he added.
When the issue first came to prominence late last year, he tabled a motion opposing the council spending €10,000 on iPhones for the 28 councillors.
Mr Lewis (People Before Profit) believed the option of providing a Samsung Galaxy at no cost should have been chosen.
However, council officials researched the issue and decided to offer a range of three handsets.
The council established a technology fund to facilitate the purchase of the phones.
The fund is financed from cash previously allocated towards conferences and training expenses and officials have insisted there will be no additional cost to the council.
Members were provided with information on three models, but were advised only the iPhone complied with encryption policies relating to the storage of personal and confidential data.
"To date, €2,597.87 has been drawn down from this fund," a council spokeswoman said.
The money was used to the buy 11 iPhones, two Samsung Aces and one Samsung i9001 model. The spokeswoman said the purchase price of the different models is commercially sensitive but she emphasised it was at "a very competitive government rate".
In October, People Before Profit councillors in Dun Laoghaire accused their colleagues of seeking to splash out €10,000 on iPhones.
But Labour's Richard Humphreys said the accusations were "misleading".
"Councillors did not vote to get iPhones. They voted to move some money from the training and education budget to the technology budget, with no additional overall costs," he told the Herald last year.
The councillors made no decision on what mobile phone would be purchased, Mr Humphreys added.
In an earlier statement, Mr Lewis had welcomed the decision of council management to use their executive function to ensure that "councillors are not allowed to waste thousands of public funds on smartphones".
However, following a review, the council decided to offer the iPhone to members.