Trump that: Belfast Council spends £40k on luxury hotels around world
Belfast City Council has spent more than £40,000 of ratepayers' money putting its staff and councillors up in luxurious hotels around the world - including Donald Trump's five-star hotel in Las Vegas.
More than £30,000 alone has been spent on accommodation over the last 12 months for council officials including chief executive Suzanne Wylie, while just over £11,000 was spent on assisting members, such as former Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Arder Carson.
Ms Wylie, Mr Carson and the Alliance Party's Emmet McDonough-Brown stayed at the five-star China World Hotel in Beijing overlooking the stunning cityscape, with the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square all within easy reach.
The hotel features crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and each room is elegantly decorated with contemporary Asian art.
Then there was the award-winning Chinese and European cuisine at the Summer Palace and Aria restaurants if the trio so desired and the live and classical orchestra which, according to the hotel's website, "serenades and sets the mood for majestic dreams".
Almost £3,000 was spent putting Ms Wylie up in hotels everywhere from Washington (JFK Hilton) and Cannes (Hotel Esperanto) to London (Holiday Inn) and Dublin (Jurys Inn) in the last year.
More than £4,000 was spent by former first citizen Mr Carson so he could stay in Boston, Copenhagen, Washington, Nashville, London and Dublin, as well as Beijing
The full list of costs, obtained following a Freedom of Information request by the Belfast Telegraph, reveals the outlay for every single excursion by the council's employees and public representatives.
The information shows that officials also stayed in Birmingham, Leeds, Plymouth, Brussels, Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Co Wicklow.
But others ended up further afield as part of their work. The council's economic development officer stayed at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Austin at a cost of £1,573.27, while its European officer spent £1,075.45 staying at The Omni Park House Hotel in Boston.
The council's director stayed at the same hotel in Massachusetts, and during a visit to Cannes, a resort town on the French Riviera famed for its international film festival, stayed at Hotel Esperanto at a cost of £692.92.
The director of property and projects enjoyed a trip to Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel in New York, an elegant Irish hotel three blocks away from Grand Central Station and the United Nations.
Staff from Belfast Zoo, including its manager, curator and zookeepers, stayed in hotels during trips to London, Paris, Liverpool, Dundee, Dublin, Poland and Ljubljana in Slovenia.
During a visit to Argentina, the council's revenue and business generation manager stayed at the five-star Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel, which boasts an Italian restaurant, lobby bar, indoor and outdoor pool, fitness facilities, a shopping arcade and tennis courts.
The council's conference and sales executive stayed in the five-star Hotel Trump in Las Vegas - owned by US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump - at a cost of £506.44.
The rooms in the 64-storey, golden glass tower feature floor to ceiling windows, kitchenettes and marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, as well as Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs.
A gourmet restaurant serves American cuisine, and other services include free shoeshines and a shuttle to select local attractions.
The council executive also stayed at The Silken Gran Havana Hotel in Barcelona, while the digital portfolio manager stayed at the The Fairfax, a Georgian-style hotel in Washington DC, and the Kyriad Prestige Hotel in Paris.
Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers stayed in Glasgow and London and the DUP's Brian Kingston had a touch of home when he stayed at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool, as did Sinn Fein's Matthew Garrett, Alliance's Mervyn Jones and thew SDLP's Patrick Convery.
Alliance councillor Carole Howard spent the most of all councillors on accommodation, £1,603.00 in total, staying at the Fairfield Inn in Nashville, close to the Johnny Cash Museum.