[Sinn Fein]

16th December 2002

Minister Cullen's bribe is outrageous - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Fein Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has described as ``outrageous'' the proposal from the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to offer Oireachtas members a `golden handshake' of ¤7,500 to vacate their seats in advance of the 2004 local government elections. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``I welcome Minister Cullen's signalled abolition of the dual mandate, something I supported in the last Dáil before Government backbenchers pulled the plug on his predecessor Noel Dempsey's legislation. However the proposal to offer a bribe of ¤7,500 to sitting Oireachtas members to vacate their local authority seats early is simply placating those same disgruntled backbenchers.

``It would be outrageous for the Government to use public money in this way to sweeten their own Oireachtas members and to smooth the path for their successors on local councils who would be co-opted in their places in advance of the elections. It would be equally unacceptable for the direct election of mayors and chairs which has already been legislated for, to be set aside, again for purely party political reasons. It is obvious now that many members of the establishment parties are more concerned that they would not dominate these direct elections than they are at the loss of the dual mandate.''

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