Longford County Council chief disputes Sipo findings

Tim Caffrey broke ethics rules when he failed to disclose interest in property, Commission finds

The Standards in Public Office Commission has issued a damning report into the behaviour of Longford County Council chief executive Tim Caffrey. Photograph: Willie Farrell

The Standards in Public Office Commission has issued a damning report into the behaviour of Longford County Council chief executive Tim Caffrey. Photograph: Willie Farrell

 

Longford County Council chief executive Tim Caffrey is disputing the negative findings of a Standards in Public Office Commission inquiry into his behaviour.

The Commission issued a report on Tuesday severely critical of his failure to disclose an interest in a property which was the subject of a grant application by the Council.

It found Mr Caffrey had contravened ethics legislation when he failed to disclose in writing to the Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council the nature of his interest in the property at Clondra.

The property was the subject of a grant application from the Council to the Department of the Environment to enable it to be acquired by the approved housing body, the Muiríosa Foundation.

“The Commission found that the contravention was committed negligently to a high degree and was, in all the circumstances, a serious matter. The Commission also found that Mr Caffrey did not act in good faith in relation to the contravention,” according to its report.

The Commission undertook a hearing into the complaint against Mr Caffrey on September 28th last. It found he had contravened section 178(2)(b) of the Local Government Act 2001 by failing to disclose in writing to the Cathaoirleach of the Council the nature of his interest in his property.

A statement issued on behalf of Mr Caffrey said he was very disappointed with the findings of the Commission and was now considering the option of pursuing a judicial review of one of these findings which he said the Commission was not entitled to reach.

Mr Caffrey said the Commission was asked to decided on two issues. One was whether is actions involved neglect or oversight and the second was whether his actions were serious or minor.

However, he disputed the right of the Commission to include the additional finding that: “Mr Caffrey did not act in good faith.”

“He utterly rejects this finding, as 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 says. “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.”

It added that having worked in Dublin, Sligo, Clare and Longford.,Mr Caffrey had always been acutely aware of the need to maintain trust within the public sector. “He has always contended that what happened was an event and a source of deep personal embarrassment.”