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NI councillors insist funded conference trip is not a ‘junket’


Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Stock image.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Stock image.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Stock image.

Politicians from a local Northern Ireland council attending an energy conference in England have insisted it will be “worthwhile”, with one insisting it is “not some sort of junket”.

Two Newry, Mourne and Down District Council councillors spoke out ahead of flying to the National Energy Action (NEA) annual conference in Birmingham on September 19, which runs for three days.

Minister for Business, Lord Callanan, will open the conference with Northern Ireland featuring heavily in the discussions.

SDLP councillor Terry Andrews said that he would “be giving 100%” at the conference.

“I would consider myself a full-time councillor and each year I publish all my costs on my social media for transparency,” said Mr Andrews.

“I don’t have to do this, but I believe that every penny we as councillors spend must be shown to the ratepayers.

“I do believe this is a very worthwhile conference to attend especially at this time when we are all facing the rising costs of the energy crisis.”

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The breakdown of the costs will see public money spent on £131.96 flights, £544 accommodation, as well as the conference cost of £346 plus VAT per person.

The council has also stated that all meals will be provided with the conference and it does not provide a budget for any other costs associated with the event.

Independent councillor Henry Reilly has stated that he will be providing a full report to the council from the NEA conference.

“This is the first event paid by the council that I have been on in about eight years,” said Mr Reilly.

“I believe this is a very important conference that will provide solutions that I can bring back to Northern Ireland, which will be very useful. It is not some sort of junket.

“I am also going to do a full report from the conference and present it to the council on my return.”

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