Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley
The Ethics Register, we feel, should come with a health warning.
Filling out the form – a legal requirement – hasn’t been as easy as you’d expect. And it’s brought on shocking side effects for a few of our city councillors when they’re declaring their property and other financial interests.
The concept sounds simple: every year, councillors count how much property they own or have an interest in and then fill in that information in the blank space provided.
Easy PZ you’d think . . . but the very sight of those ethics forms seem to send some councillors into a tizzy.
For some, the forms bring on mild memory loss: others get a rare illness that we like to call IDRIWSTDTS, or STDTS for short, which is known as the ‘I Didn’t Realise I Was Supposed To Declare That Syndrome’.
It’s more common in Galway than you’d think.
You will recall a few years back that Fianna Fáil city councillor Mike Crowe suffered from STDTS, when he inadvertently didn’t put on the forms that he had 11 properties in the Council’s Rental Accommodation Scheme. He did, of course, alter the form when the oversight was brought to his attention.
Then last year we had two Labour Party city councillors, Niall McNelis and Billy Cameron, who “omitted in error” to publicly declare the homes that they live in. This, we were told at the time is, because “they didn’t realise that they had to include their private home in the register”.
Funny how the previous year they did declare their homes. A classic case of STDTS.
And who can forget Independent, former Progressive Democrat, city councillor Declan McDonnell, who was listed as being a landlord on the Council’s RAS scheme for a house in Doughiska, which he didn’t declare in the 2012 Register of Interests. That came out in the wash following a Freedom of Information request.
Turns out the property wasn’t actually his, it was his daughter’s, and he says he wasn’t actually benefiting from the RAS scheme, although his offspring was, and he just happened to sign the forms in his name because his daughter was abroad when the forms needed to be signed.
Another case where the Ethics Register at City Hall was “happy it was omitted in error”.
And sure if the Ethics Register is happy, shouldn’t we all be happy?
That’s four instances of STDTS in the one Council. We fear the rest of the councillors might need to be tested for the disease.
But isn’t it great that we still have a strong, local free press in this country to remind them – or should we say ‘cure’ them – of this unfortunate disease, eh?
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.