Ireland: Council chief executive 'breached ethics legislation' over property grant

The chief executive of Longford County Council in Ireland contravened ethics legislation when he failed to properly disclose his interest in a property he owned that was subject to a grant application by the council, according to a damning report by the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The commission said Tim Caffrey should have disclosed his interest in writing to the council's cathaoirleach, or presiding officer, and the resulting breach of the Ethical Framework for the Local Government Service was "committed negligently to a high degree".

It added that Caffrey "did not act in good faith in relation to the contravention" of the framework.

The council had applied to the Department for the Environment, Community & Local Government for a grant under the Government's Capital Assistance Scheme, which it then forwarded to an approved housing body, the Muiriosa Foundation, as a loan to allow it to buy the property in Clondra, County Longford.

In a statement to the Irish Times, Caffrey said he "utterly rejects" the commission's finding that he did not act in good faith.

"He has always acted in good faith in public office during an unblemished career of 45 years as a public servant in local government," the statement read.

"He is considering a judicial review as this additional finding was not contended for by the prosecutor and no evidence was presented on it at the hearing."

The commission has sent its report to Cllr Gerry Warnock, mayor of Longford County Council, and to the ministers for public expenditure and reform and the environment, community and local government.