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Wednesday 14 January 2015

Fingal County Councillors vote to publish declarations of interest on the internet.

Councillors Part 15 Declarations is now up.

Fingal County Council have voted to publish declarations of interest on-line at the Fingal County Council meeting on 8th January 2014 Video Item starts at 16 minutes item 15 c) Report of the Organisation and Procedures Committee Meeting held on 16th December 2014.


Publication of Declarations made by Elected Members under Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001 Mr. Peppard advised the members that Section 172 of the Local Government Act 200
1 provides that the Ethics Registrar is obliged to keep a public register containing the Annual Declarations made by Members under Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001. He also advised that as these are the declarations of the Elected Members it is now a matter for the said Members to decide if they should be published on the Internet for ease of access. There then followed a prolonged discussion during which some Members requested that this matter be deferred to the January meeting of the Council. The Mayor then instructed that a vote be taken to decide if the matter should be deferred and on a division the voting resulted as follows:

In favour of deferral 8
Against deferral 16
Abstentions 0

It was then agreed that a further vote be taken to decide if indeed the Declaration should be published on the Internet and on a division the voting resulted as follows:

In favour of publication on the Internet 13
Against publication on the Internet 8
Abstentions 2

You would think that the councillors conference reports or elections expenses would be put on-line first as the Declarations of Interest is most the challenging, but maybe that is why it was tackled first, its also the most important.

Dublin City Councillors have already published Declarations of Ethics from 2011 to 2014 on-line.

The Declaration of ethics/Declaration of interests for most councillors are nill, merely mentioning current or previous jobs or houses owned with family or directorships in community facilities that they have as a councillor. I can understand why they might be hesitant, there may be some addresses and phone numbers on the forms. Some of these details will have already been published online on their website or election notice of poll or previous election expenses or donations declarations.

Report of the Organisation and Procedures Committee held 16th December.

Some images thanks to FCC addition of slides from meetings via Public-i ConnectSocial system.

Local Government Act, 2001 PART 15 Ethical Framework for the Local Government Service Section 166
Annual declaration Section 171
171.—(1) It is the duty of a person to whom section 167 (1) applies to prepare and furnish to the ethics registrar in accordance with subsection (2) or (3), as the case may be, an annual written declaration (in this Part referred to as an “annual declaration” or “declaration”, as the case may be), in the form prescribed by regulations made by the Minister, signed and dated by him or her and containing—

(a) particulars of his or her declarable interests (within the meaning of section 175 ), and

(b) an undertaking by him or her to have regard to and be guided by the relevant code of conduct in the exercise of his or her functions.

Public register of interests Section 172

Declarable interests Section 175

(a) business dealings involving land
{b) employment
(c) gifts
(d) land
(e) shares worth over €10,000
(f) directorships
(g) gifts
(h) property supplied or loaned under the commerical rate
(i) property supplied or loaned under for free
(j) contracts for supply local authorities
(k) employment aspolitical lobbyist
(l) anything else prescribe by minister by regulation
(m) anything else councillor wants to volunteer

They voted on publishing the declarations in the Organisation and Procedures (O&P) meeting on the 16th of December and after lengthy discussion and vote on whether to delay the decision to the full meeting voted to to delay and voted to allow publishing declarations online. At full monthly council meeting on January the 8th, the motion to agree to the report of the O&P meeting was proposed by Councillor Healy of the Green Party and seconded by Councillor Loftus Fine Gael. Councillor Daragh Butler FF asked whether by accepting the O&P report they were accepting everything in it, the council official replied yes and then they moved onto a few more of the next items, I didn't hear councillors collectively saying agreed on the video stream, I'm not sure what the councillors were doing to allow them to move on to the next items without dealing with their problems with this item. Councillor Butler then objected saying he didn't agree that his documents should be put online. Then Councillor Dennison FG said that he had argued at the O&P meeting, which are held in private, to have a full vote in public in the 'name of transparency', so every councillors position on this could be recorded in public. (That would be a transparent vote on not allowing more transparency). That they may be income levels details in the declarations was an issue according to one councillors. Some councillors in the room objected because they thought going back over items already agreed and move passed would set a bad precedent for the future in the council but the Mayor allowed the vote and said if people objected to way in which this vote was being held they could reflect it in their vote on the motion, eg Councillor Jimmy Guerin who said he didn't want the declarations published on-line but was at the O&P meeting and had already voted against it at that time, and said he would now vote in favour of the motion because it had already been decided. When the full vote was called it passed 24 votes to 14, with no abstentions and with 2 absences as far as I could see. Agenda
County Council Monday, 12th January, 2015 Meeting Agenda
. Minutes County Council
Monday, 12th January

Unfortunately the slide capturer didn't screen-capture the vote result, so I had to take screen grab from the video. Cick the picture to embiggen. Names of councillors to parties.

The Fingal County Council Mayor Mags Murray FF said that information garnered from Declarations of Interest "can be", "may be" put on-line in the future. Which doesn't sound very definitive after all that.

Previous Posts
Fingal County Councillors Pay and Expenses 2009-2014

The election expenses statements are not on-line either.

Fingal County Councillors Pay and Expenses 2014

The publications of Conference reports was raised at an Organisation and Procedures and in 2011 but nothing more was done as far as I know.

Howth-Malahide local election 2014 Results and Spending