Councillors won’t have to pay €5,500 cost for ‘Inkgate’
Two People Before Profit politicians will not have to refund a €5,500 cost to Dublin City Council for printing 140,000 leaflets urging their constituents not to pay their water charges.
A meeting of the Protocol Committee of the council this morning discussed the latest ‘Inkgate’ controversy to plague the council.
It was decided that Councillors Tina MacVeigh and John Lyons will not have to cover the cost, which will now be borne by the public.
But new rules are to be introduced that will limit the number of pages councillors can print each month from now on.
The Inkgate controversy arose when executive manager of the council Vincent Norton was made aware that large amounts of paper were being requested for city councillors in City Hall from June last year when
compared to the previous year.
The A4 paper orders jumped from 144 boxes in 2012 to 260 in 2014.
Service engineers were also being called more often to fix the printers, and some councillors said they found it hard to access printers because were constantly in use by others.
But the protocol committee today decided that Cllrs MacVeigh and Lyons would not be liable for the cost of their printing because there were no limits in place at the time and they had not broken any rules.
“There were no rules in place and most councillors believed you can’t impose a fine when there was no rules, but we have brought in new limits that will apply to everybody from now on,” said protocol committee chairman Cllr Dermot Lacey.
Both councillors MacVeigh and Lyons told the Herald they were glad they did not have to repay the cost, and welcomed the new limits on printing, which will now go forward to be voted on by all councillors.
The new limits will give each councillor permission to print up to 5,000 pages a month, or 60,000 in a year.
This figure can also be shared across a group, so the allocation of one councillor can be used by another in the same group or party.
“We’re just doing our job,” said Cllr John Lyons, defending the number of leaflets he printed.
“We were elected on a strong mandate to oppose the introduction of highly-regressive water charges and I think we’re doing the job that people who put us into this position expect of us, so I think we have every right to use the printing
facilities in such a fashion.
“The printing facilities that are there for councillors to communicate with their constituents, and if you look at the Crumlin/Kimmage Ward there are about 18,000 houses,” echoed Tina McVeigh.
“That’s a reasonable amount in terms of communicating effectively with constituents, which is what they asked for,” she added.
On the new proposed limits, Cllr Lyons said they seemed fair to all involved.
“I think it is a decent proposal from management,” he said after the protocol committee meeting.