Updated: 21/11/17 : 08:24:25
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Government reneges on €750k payment to Council

Sligo is - after two years - still awaiting a €750,000 payment from the Government.

Ciarán Hayes, CEO of Sligo County Council explained at the budgetary meeting of Sligo Municipal District that the outstanding sum  - the balance of a 2014 Local Government Fund to be reinstated when a debt Financial Plan was approved by the Department - should have been paid when the plan was sanctioned in 2015.

When Mr Hayes raised the issue with Local Government Asst Secretary Paul Lemass in 2016 he was told by the official that his recollection was the amount would be paid over a 2-3 year period on approval of the debt management plan.

Earlier this year Mr Hayes notified the Department in writing that Sligo County Council was never notified of this change of criteria and again repeated his request for the €750,000 to be paid under the previously agreed terms.

No response

No response was received until ten weeks later (29 June 2017) when the CEO was informed by Mr Lemass that he wanted the five-year financial plan to be spread over a 10-year period and that the Department would allocate €200,000 per year.

In July this year Mr Hayes repeated his request for the outstanding €750,000 and sought a meeting with the Minister of Local Government Eoghan Murphy.

This request for a meeting with the minister was declined by Mr Lemass.

In August, Mr Hayes repeated his request for an urgent meeting with the minister citing several reasons, no response was received.

A follow up letter from Mr Hayes in September also received no response. In October the CEO again wrote to the Department Assistant Secretary outlining his disappointment at the Department's failure to engage with the Council and again sought an urgent meeting.

In November (9th) Mr Lemass finally responded stating that a 'meeting was not warranted' and avoided referring to the outstanding payment.

Last week the Sligo CEO advised councillors that it 'appears that Mr Lemass has unilaterally decided to alter the terms of the Financial Plan without any consultation with Sligo County Council.'